Managing Principal Susan Tierney Participates in Natural Gas Debate at Aspen Ideas Festival
July 11, 2012
Managing Principal Susan Tierney paired up with New York Times reporter Joe Nocera at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival (June 27 to July 3) to consider whether natural gas can be “a clean energy solution, or a dangerous roadblock to a fossil-free future.” They were panelists in the televised debate “No Fracking Way: The Natural Gas Boom Is Doing More Harm than Good,” sponsored by Intelligence Squared U.S.
Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney at Earthjustice, and Katherine Hudson, watershed program director at Riverkeeper, argued that natural gas development through hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) poses significant risks to consumers and the environment, given the greenhouse gases emitted in the process and the potential effects on aquifers and water quality.
In response, Dr. Tierney and Mr. Nocera outlined some of the economic, energy security, and environmental benefits of the natural gas boom, including reduced dependence on foreign oil, a cheaper domestic energy supply, and the move away from coal, “the dirtiest fuel we have,” according to Mr. Nocera. Dr. Tierney focused additionally on the many improvements that should, and can, be made in natural gas development with regard to air emissions, water supply and quality, gas delivery, and disclosure issues. She identified the environmental and economic trade-offs that exist for all energy choices; every type of energy source affects someone’s back yard, she noted.
“What I really wish is that people would stop demonizing [natural gas], because it makes it impossible to find sensible solutions in the middle,” Dr. Tierney said. “We should be working on enabling those to develop over time.”
The debate received media mentions from a number of sources, including the Huffington Post and the Atlantic.
Watch the debate