In an August 5th op-ed, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman urges America to “Get It Right On Gas.” While noting domestic natural gas development’s potential to address a host of energy policy issues – the trade imbalance and job creation, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy security – Friedman quotes Energy Innovation’s Hal Harvey in asking if natural gas offers “a transition to a clean energy future, or does it defer a clean energy future?”
“A sustained [natural] gas glut could undermine new investments in wind, solar, nuclear and energy efficiency systems – which have zero emissions – and thus keep us addicted to fossil fuels for decades,” Friedman writes. He suggests that such a scenario would reduce natural gas’ societal value because the economic and energy security benefits of domestic natural gas come with significant environmental trade-offs, such as climate impact and hydraulic fracturing.
To maximize natural gas’ value to society, Friedman argues for “nationally accepted standards for controlling methane leakage, for controlling water used in fracking — where you get it, how you treat the polluted water that comes out from the fracking process and how you protect aquifers — and for ensuring that communities have the right to say no to drilling.” He goes on to say that a carbon tax, which would raise the price of natural gas, could raise enough revenue to help pay down the national debt, lower income and corporate taxes, and help make renewables cost-competitive with natural gas.
What’s required to ‘get it right’ with domestic natural gas development and use? Would a carbon tax increase natural gas’ value?