PITTSBURGH — President Barack Obama's speech this week on climate change forcefully rejected some key arguments made by opponents of natural gas fracking, upsetting some environmental groups that otherwise back his climate goals.
Obama, in his address Tuesday calling for urgent action to address climate change, praised what he called “cleaner-burning natural gas” and its role in providing safe, cheap power that he said also can help reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
Regulators in many states with new drilling activity say fracking, a colloquial term for hydraulic fracturing, is being done safely and is essentially similar to the hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells that have been drilled all over the nation.
The drilling boom has reduced oil and gas imports and generated billions of dollars for companies and landowners. Many scientists and environmental groups also agree with Obama's main point: that while there are some negative effects from natural gas, burning coal is far worse for the environment and public health. There's no dispute that natural gas burns far cleaner than coal, but its main component, methane, is a potent heat-trapping gas.
Some environmental groups advocate a total rejection of all fossil fuels and an all-out effort to switch to renewables such as wind turbines and solar panels. They also say people living close to drilling operations have suffered from too much pollution.