PBO Needs to Put His Appointment Where His Mouth Is

Tell President Obama: Don’t appoint fracking proponent Dr. Ernest Moniz to lead the Department of Energy

President Obama keeps saying we need to confront climate change. Yet it’s rumored he’s considering nominating Dr. Ernest Moniz to lead DOE.  "As a proponent of fracking, Dr. Ernest Moniz is the wrong choice for to lead the Department of Energy. Appoint an energy secretary who will move us away from toxic, climate-heating fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy." 

So why is he considering appointing a major proponent of fracking to lead the Department of Energy?

According to Reuters, President Obama is seriously considering appointing Dr. Ernest Moniz – the director of MIT’s Big Oil-sponsored Energy Institute and a big believer in expanding toxic, climate-heating gas fracking.1

At a time when the last thing we should be doing is undermining our progress against climate change, Moniz is the wrong choice to head one of the most important agencies in the fight for a sustainable energy future.

Tell President Obama: Stop promoting fracking, and don’t appoint Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy!

Moniz’s Energy Institute at MIT is sponsored by the likes of BP, Chevron and Saudi Aramco. So it is no surprise that the gas industry and pro-fracking groups welcomed the rumor of Moniz’s appointment to head DOE.2

Moniz is a strong backer of the deeply flawed notion that we should expand our fracking infrastructure and development to serve as a "bridge" to low-carbon sources of energy.

But fracking isn’t a bridge to a better future; it’s an expressway to climate change and toxic pollution. Expanding fracking will worsen its toxic air pollution and increase its huge volumes of toxic wastewater, will increase incidents of groundwater contamination, and will unleash an absolutely catastrophic amount of greenhouse gas3 — not just through burning gas, but through the tremendous leakage from fracking wells of methane, a greenhouse gas that has 20 times the heat-trapping power of C02 over 100 years, making fracked gas as bad for the climate than burning coal.

What’s more, heavy reliance on burning gas slows the implementation of the sustainable carbon-free sources of energy that will put a dent in our climate emissions.

Tell President Obama: Stop promoting fracking, and don’t appoint Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy!

Climate change won’t be solved by tradeoffs, compromises, or moderate-sounding catch phrases like "all of the above." President Obama cannot make a serious attempt at confronting climate change as long as he is pushing policies to "encourage" fracking and appointing administration officials who will undermine the progress he could be making.

This week, we delivered to the White House our open letter co-signed by over 240,000 people, calling on President Obama to lead on climate change and abandon his "all of the above" energy policy. But he still doubled down in his State of the Union address. By publicly protesting one of his rumored top picks for Energy secretary, we know that he’ll hear the message.

Tell President Obama: Stop promoting fracking, and don’t appoint Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy!

1. "EXCLUSIVE-Obama considering MIT physicist Moniz for energy secretary -sources," Reuters, February 6, 2013
2. "Will Ernest Moniz be the next Energy secretary?," Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2013
3. "Bridge To Nowhere? NOAA Confirms High Methane Leakage Rate Up To 9% From Gas Fields, Gutting Climate Benefit," Think Progress, January 2, 2013

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Fracking Exports

Selling liquefied natural gas to foreign markets doesn’t serve U.S. interests.

By Deb Nardone
Deb Nardone
In recent years, the natural gas industry has plunged deeper and deeper into the reckless practice of “fracking,” putting communities nationwide at risk of dirty, dangerous pollution and practices that are exempt from many clean air and water laws. Now gas profiteers have realized that there’s even more money to be made by liquefying the gas and shipping it overseas. So what if it comes at the cost of our air, water, and health?

We could soon see more gas exported per day than we currently use to generate electricity. That would mean a lot more fracking — a dangerous process that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, and a secret cocktail of toxic chemicals underground to force out natural gas.

Outrageously, the natural gas industry doesn’t have to disclose what chemicals it uses to mine gas through fracking, nor are companies required to dispose of hazardous waste in a safe manner or limit the amount of toxic pollution they spew into the air. In many places, fracking has sickened local residents, disrupted underlying geology and aquifers, contaminated water supplies, and polluted the air.

But the environmental costs of natural gas exports don’t stop there. Once the gas is extracted, it needs to travel from production sites to coastal export terminals through hundreds of miles of pipelines. Such pipelines could cut across private property, scenic waterways, and public parks, putting our air, water, and land at risk. Where existing pipelines are used to transport natural gas, they will have to be expanded.

Then there are the environmental impacts associated with building the natural gas export terminals, or expanding existing terminals. These terminals will often require sensitive estuaries to be dredged to make room for massive tankers, and the huge industrial machinery needed to liquefy gas will increase air and water pollution. Expanding facilities and ship traffic will also take their toll on coastal communities, their economies, and the environment.

Finally, the energy needed to cool and liquefy natural gas to be shipped overseas leaves a carbon footprint on par with coal — increasing our dangerous reliance on dirty fossil fuels and worsening climate disruption.

Before authorizing natural gas exports to countries such as Japan and China, the Department of Energy must first conduct a thorough public analysis to determine whether those exports serve the public interest. This analysis is critical to understand the environmental and economic impacts associated with natural gas exports and to build a deliberate energy policy that protects the interests of the American public.

Our nation — and the rest of the world — can do better by finding alternative ways to power our homes and businesses. Clean, renewable, and homegrown energy exists today and is already being heavily used nationwide. In Iowa, wind power generates 20 percent of the state’s electricity. The city of San Antonio is retiring its coal-fired plants in favor of solar power, which is already creating hundreds of jobs.

Ultimately, the only safe, smart, and responsible way to address our nation’s energy needs is to look beyond dirty energy and scale up clean sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. Let’s protect our air, water, and our health by moving beyond natural gas.


Deb Nardone is the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign.http://sierraclub.org/naturalgas.  Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)