A liberal energy insider wrote Monday that natural gas fracturing is a godsend for Democratic presidential candidates, and liberals in general, because it reduces carbon emissions and helps stimulate prosperity for the poor.
Gary Sernovitz, the managing director of natural gas developer Lime Rock Management, wrote an editorial for The New York Times explaining his increasingly unique position.
New York, which officially banned fracking in June 2015, will have its Republican and Democratic primaries April 19, Sernovitz wrote. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders should consider natural gas a boon, not a bane, for society, he added.
“The anti-fracking rhetoric seems to be rooted in the assumption that liberalism is as inherently antithetical to fracking as it is, say, to the Defense of Marriage Act — or monarchy,” Sernovitz, who invests in shale oil gas development, wrote in the NYT.
Sernovitz says he has not seen anything in his profession that has made him shift his political positions.
“I remain a classic New York City liberal,” he assured readers, “whose opinions my friends in Midland see as evidence of either perverse disregard for my own self-interest or pitiable softheadedness.”
He went on to describe a few examples of Democrats who supported natural gas development back before it was perceived as a bane to humanity and the environment.
Environmentalists have only recently shied away from praising fracking, Sernovitz wrote.
Anti-fossil fuel activists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who once said that shale gas was President Barack Obama’s “most obvious first step toward saving our planet,” and Obama himself once sang the praises of the natural gas developers.
In fact, Obama had some very positive things to say about fracking in his 2012 State of the Union address, Sernovitz pointed out in his editorial.
“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years,” Obama said during the address. “And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”
Sernovitz ticked off several economic and environmental benefits associated with fracking, including breakthroughs in carbon emissions and economic prosperity for the poor.
Natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal to generate the same amount of electricity, he said, adding that shale oil reservoirs has led to a 40 percent uptick in overall gas production in the U.S. –while at the same time causing a 70 percent fall in prices.
The U.S. has ratcheted down its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 556 million metric tons, he added. “If coal returned to its pre-shale revolution market share, our carbon emissions would grow by 5 percent, spewing 285 million more tons of carbon into the air”
Natural gas production, he noted, also helps liberals fight poverty as well.
Researchers found in a report published in December that natural gas production injected billions of dollars into Colorado’s economic engine. The report also found that fracking contributed $31.7 billion in total economic benefits to the state’s economy in 2014, along with “supporting 102,700 jobs and $7.6 billion in compensation.”
“Liberals can sincerely differ on whether a near-term increase in carbon emissions is worth the long-term scarcity of oil and gas. These aren’t easy questions. You don’t have to support fracking to be a liberal, but you are not a shill for the fossil fuel industry if you do,” he concluded.
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