Fracking Regulations Are Key to the Future of Natural Gas

If natural gas has a future, the key is to regulate hydraulic fracking in a report by the International Energy Agency. The New York Times recommends that all concerned about the environment read it - and no better place to apply it than New York.
June 14, 2012, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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In no uncertain terms, the Paris-based International Energy Agency which reports on all forms of energy, states "that shale gas can be safely extracted, and at relatively low cost, and is preferable to coal in terms of emissions that contribute to global warming."

However, the report makes clear that there are serious environmental and social risks associated with fracking, including "imposing a larger environmental footprint than conventional gas development....Serious hazards, including the potential for air pollution and for contamination of surface and groundwater, must be successfully addressed. Greenhouse-gas emissions must be minimised."

To address these serious impacts, IEA has written the 'Golden Rules' - "principles that can allow policymakers, regulators, operators and others to address these environmental and social impacts."

Perhaps with those rules in mind, particularly the "watch where you drill" rule (pg. 44), New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced a plan that "would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation, at least for the next several years, in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination", writes Danny Hakim on June 13 in The New York Times.

Hakim notes that, "the strategy has not been made final and details could change, but it has been taking shape over several months. It would be contingent on hydraulic fracturing's receiving final approval from state regulators, a step that is not a foregone conclusion but is widely expected later this summer."

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Published on Saturday, June 9, 2012 in The New York Times - Opinion
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