Monday, December 21, 2009

Sierra Club's Pro-Gas Dilemma

I think this article about the Sierra Club is a good illustration of the divide occurring between environmentalists regarding natural gas. Natural gas may be (somewhat) cleaner burning than coal and other fuels, but what's the point in focusing on a cleaner fuel to save the earth if there is no earth left to save because it has been destroyed by hydraulic fracturing? I find it deeply disturbing that an organization with such wide-standing recognition is promoting natural gas without addressing the environmental issues that accompany its extraction. It will be interesting to see what action (if any), the Sierra Club will take now that people are looking more closely at their affiliations.

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- When energy companies began preparations to drill for natural gas in upstate New York last year, the local Sierra Club quickly organized against them.

The group's New York chapter demanded studies on the environmental risks, pushed for stricter regulations and called for a statewide ban on most gas drilling. The drilling hasn't begun as the state works to develop regulations.

It would have been a typical story of environmentalists battling industry, except for one thing: The national Sierra Club is one of natural gas's biggest boosters.

Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, has traveled the country promoting natural gas's environmental benefits, sometimes alongside Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the biggest U.S. gas companies by production.

The national group's pro-gas stance has angered on-the-ground environmentalists in several states who say their concerns are being marginalized. More>>>