BCJN Fact Sheet: Natural Gas is a Bridge to Disaster
In June 2015, NY Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens issued this “findings statement” following the announcement of a natural gas fracking ban in NY State by Governor Andrew Cuomo: “In the end, there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that would adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and that address the scientific uncertainties and risks to public health from this activity (hydraulic fracturing or fracking). The Department’s chosen alternative to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the best alternative based on the balance between protection of the environment and public health and economic and social considerations.”
At one time, it was believed that natural gas, though a fossil fuel, could be a “bridge” to a “clean energy future” relying on renewable technologies like wind and solar. President Obama promoted natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton still does so. Unfortunately, though fracking for natural gas is banned in our state, the distribution and use of gas is vigorously promoted by agencies like NYSERDA (NY State Energy Research & Development Authority) and Con Ed. Faced with legislative mandates (like NYC’s Public Law 43), to cease burning #6 heating oil, (the oil that causes so much visible air pollution), many buildings throughout the city, including the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives and Condominiums (ARC) have converted to natural gas consumption, persuaded by arguments from Con Ed that it is “cleaner burning” and cheaper than oil. The true story is far more complex.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel (like coal and oil), that causes dangerous local pollution including particulate matter and devastating environmental impacts where it is extracted. In addition, natural gas is a major driver of climate change. BCJN advocates that Bronx buildings convert to lighter forms of heating oil (#2 & #4), until heating and cooling can be 100% achieved through a combination of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy (natural gas and nuclear power are not clean energies).
- Natural gas is methane, which captures up to 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. The extraction, distribution, and burning of natural gas leaks methane at every point in the process. Thus, though burning natural gas leads to a lower CARBON footprint than burning oil, burning natural gas is in fact more harmful from a climate change point of view than burning #2 oil.
- The resources — political, physical, and financial — needed to build out a massive natural gas infrastructure throughout our state (much of it simply to move natural gas through NY to other markets and even overseas), will make the urgently needed shift to renewable sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal), dangerously slow.
- Fracking (the extraction process currently in use around the U.S.) for natural gas destroys clean water, endangers the environment, human health, wildlife, and agriculture.
- In addition to the process of fracking, all the accompanying infrastructure of natural gas — pipelines, compressor stations, storage caverns, water withdrawals, and other support systems — cause local pollution, human health problems, and drive climate change. Despite the 2014 ban on fracking, NY State is riddled with fracking infrastructure including countless new gas construction projects such as the AIM pipeline, a 42″, high-pressure, fracked gas pipeline being installed alongside Indian Point nuclear power plant.
For more details about natural gas, fracking, and options for buildings as we move toward renewables, visit the website of Sane Energy Project.
Questions? Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also learn more about BCJN’s campaign against the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) expansion project.