Monday, June 11, 2012

NYT Editorial Diverges From NYT's Drilling Down Series: Embraces IEA Report

While the WSJ was on Saturday softball interviewing one of the nation's biggest gas skeptics, the NYT penned the same day a pro-natural gas editorial that embraced the IEA's Golden Rules of Gas paper.

Congratulations to the New York Times Editorial Board for being substantially immune to the Drilling Down Series that appears regularly in its pages and for offering a measured prescription for moving forward.  Happily and importantly, the regulatory changes that the Editorial Board urges have often been completed. 

For example, in Pennsylvania, from 2008 to 2011, regulations governing gas drilling were modernized and strengthened in 5 separate regulatory packages.  Regulatory oversight staff was more than doubled in 2009 and 2010 to coincide with the shale gas boom.  Inspectors actively enforced rules, issuing 1200 and 1100 violations to the industry in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Additionally, sensible rule changes at the federal level have been completed.  The EPA final rulemaking on air emissions from gas production will slash methane leakage in the gas drilling and completion phases. It is a bigger deal than the Editorial writer may appreciate.  Indeed, the climate benefits of natural gas will soon be greater than they have ever been, as methane leakage is reduced significantly.

The water impacts of gas production always were lower than those caused by coal and oil and some other fuels like corn ethanol.  Today, they are declining further as technologies like recycling and other water treatment options proliferate.  In fact, in Pennsylvania, where recycling technology was developed first, nearly all shale gas drilling wastewater is recycled.

Meanwhile, the burgeoning use of natural gas is delivering major environmental benefits.  It has avoided or cut already the equivalent of 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year and enormous amounts of mercury, lead, soot, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide pollution that sicken people.

One simple truth cannot be ignored, though it is inconvenient for some: Americans are breathing much cleaner air this morning than just 2 years ago because of the success of gas in displacing dirtier fuels.

It is good to see the NYT pay close attention to the IEA Golden Rules Report. The IEA has collected press coverage of the report and that can be accessed at:

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