News Release

Obama’s Climate Action Plan a “Full-Throttle Endorsement” of Fracking


STEVE HORN, @steve_horn1022
Horn is a research fellow for DeSmogBlog. He wrote yesterday: “President Obama announced his administration’s ‘Climate Action Plan‘ for cutting carbon pollution in his second term in the Oval Office at Georgetown University and unfortunately, it’s a full-throttle endorsement of every aspect of fracking and the global shale gas market.

Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) is the toxic horizontal drilling process via which gas is obtained from shale rock basins around the world, and touting its expanded use flies in the face of any legitimate plan to tackle climate change or create a healthy future for children. …

“In fact, children’s health and air quality nationwide are directly threatened by the promotion of further fracking and natural gas drilling activity. There is a clear disconnect between the president’s stated commitment to a healthy future for children, and the vast expansion of natural gas drilling and fracking, which are scientifically proven to be polluting the air and drinking water of Americans.

“‘Burning natural gas is about one-half as carbon-intensive as coal, which can make it a critical “bridge fuel” for many countries as the world transitions to even cleaner sources of energy,’ reads Obama’s plan.

“That premise is false. When measured in its entire life cycle — as Cornell University researchers found — fracked gas is actually dirtier than coal and therefore is a bridge to nowhere other than extreme climate disruption. That’s due to fugitive methane emissions, conveniently left out of the climate plan: methane is a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.”

Wysham is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is founder and co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network and director of the Genuine Progress Project.

She said: “President Obama’s speech at Georgetown University was a milestone speech on climate change in two aspects: 1) He made it clear he is not afraid to tackle coal as the primary culprit in climate change, and 2) he made a major pivot in how he framed the Keystone XL pipeline debate, no longer talking about ‘energy security’ or ‘jobs’ when talking about the pipeline but instead linking ‘our national interest’ with whether or not the pipeline would have a signficiant impact on the changing climate. Virtually all climate scientists who have weighed in on the Keystone XL pipeline — including NASA’s former top scientists, James Hansen, who said it would be ‘game over’ for the climate if the pipeline went forward — agree: tar sands oil, if exploited, would result in a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Obama also said he would encourage developing countries to transition to natural gas as they move away from coal, a posture consistent with what he is calling for at home. Such a statement is unfortunate, as it encourages the expansion of fracking on U.S. lands, which results in fugitive methane emissions, water contamination and health problems for nearby communities. The low price of natural gas, while welcome as a replacement for coal, is making truly clean and renewable energy less attractive financially.

“But more significantly, Obama signaled in this speech that he is ready to use his executive authority and is not willing to compromise on two key things: the climate impacts of coal and tar sands.”

Additional background: “Obama hints at Keystone approval” from Politico.