President Barack Obama’s speech on climate change Tuesday included what amounted to a prominent shout out to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas — without ever mentioning the much-debated technique by name.
In his remarks at Georgetown, Obama said natural gas is “creating jobs,” “lowering many families’ heat and power bills” and is an “effective transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution.”
“And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this,” Obama said. “We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”
Unsurprisingly, Obama’s comments drew praise from the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, which has lobbied Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to allow high-volume fracking in the Marcellus Shale. (So far, that effort has been unsuccessful as the state Health and Environmental Conservation departments continue to review the technique.)
After the speech, IOGA Director Brad Gill issued this statement:
“The president and his administration have clearly concluded that safe, innovative, modern domestic energy production is in the best interest of the national economy and the environment, and that natural gas is the best option for transitioning to increased use of renewable energy sources. This is a message that many other states have heard. New York must finally accept the truth about modern, safe natural gas development: the challenges are manageable and the benefits are too great to ignore.”
Earthworks, a Washington D.C.-based environmental group, disagreed. In a statement, Executive Director Jennifer Krill said “increased natural gas and oil production is part of the climate change problem, not the solution.
From her statement:
“The President has an important choice to make. He can choose to ignore science — as climate change deniers still do — and support dirty fossil fuels like fracking-enabled oil and gas development, and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Or he can follow common sense, and his own scientists, and shift the resources and brainpower that have supported dirty energy to instead encourage the use of conservation and renewables.”