The end burning of natural gas is less than burning coal - HOWEVER the extraction of natural gas through drilling and "fracking" is more toxic. Methane emissions from leaks, flaring and related releases are contributing to climate change by a factor of 4.
Additionally, drilling and fracking are taking a toll on land we use for growing food, the air that we breathe and fresh water sources.
I left this reply:
Wind energy consumes 700 times more land than fracking. A similar relationship exists regarding solar vs. fracking. “Renewables” consume a lot of natural raw materials and resources, as well. For example, wind energy requires 100 times more iron ore and steel than an equivalent amount of natural gas energy, because wind energy is diverse, while natural gas is highly concentrated stored energy.
This doesn’t mean we should stop solar and wind. It means objective, unbiased thinking is needed. Neither fracking or natural gas should be stopped. Given the vital necessity to humans of reliable, affordable energy, all energy production should be welcomed into the competitive mix, while negative side effects should be minimized as quickly as technology and economic viability makes possible.
“Clean, renewable” energy is a myth. Every energy source has negative pollution side effects that must be managed. All require the extraction and use of finite raw materials from the Earth. Solar and wind require massive operations involving mining, manufacturing, transportation, construction of infrastructure for generation and delivery, maintenance and replacement, etc.—all of which have their own set of problems to deal with, and all of which requires fossil fueled equipment and machines. The question is, which energy source best meets the needs of human life. There’s no contest based on today’s energy technologies: It’s fossil fuels.
As for air, overall air quality is getting better even as fossil fuel use increases, as the EPA reports:
Pollution is a manageable problem. Energy privation is not.
Finally, Tom Moran, the Star-Ledger’s editorial page editor, said in the editorial that the environmental movement “lost its collective mind” for opposing fracking and natural gas pipelines. Moran said this in the comments section, in reply to a correspondent:
I’ve been a supporter of nuclear power for years, for the same reason as fracking.
I don't know how that's right wing. It's driven by a concern, even alarm, over climate change.
I left this reply to Moran:
While I respect people who are sincerely—though I think mistakenly or overwroughtly—concerned about man-made climate change, I don’t grant the anti-fracking, anti-nuclear green groups the same respect. For them, I think climate change, along with their demands for “clean, renewable” energy, is window dressing for an insidious anti-industrial agenda that values non-impact on nature over human well-being. I firmly believe that if the utility consortium now seeking approval for the PennEast natural gas pipeline were to propose, instead, a string of hundreds of windmills, with the related access roads and transmission infrastructure, along the proposed pipeline right-of-way, the greens would oppose that, too.
I don’t think the environmental movement has “lost its collective mind.” I think they are being fully consistent, at least in regards to the movement’s intellectual leaders. That the greens oppose nuclear and hydro, the only non-co2 emitting reliable energy sources available today, is my proof that this is so.