Natural Gas: Abundance of Supply and Debate

MEAD, Colo. — Natural gas is the Rorschach test of energy policy. Depending on one’s point of view, it can be either an essential tool for meeting the challenge of climate change or another dirty fossil fuel that will speed the planet down the path to calamitous warming.

President Obama is in the first camp. He sang the praises of natural gas in his State of the Union address in January, saying, “If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” But many environmental activists have denounced shale drilling because of the potential health risks that were cited by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York last week when he announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state.

They also say that the growing use of plentiful natural gas is accelerating climate change and sapping the urgency to promote energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. “It’s time to stop searching for a bridge and simply take the leap,” Bill McKibben, an environmental campaigner, said earlier this year.

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