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Will The Natural Gas Boom Undercut Renewable Energy?

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Message Todd Darling

Will natural gas be the bridge fuel to the future or a road block for renewables?

No wonder the unemployed can't find work in a new Green economy: the jobs haven't arrived yet. They're stalled somewhere in Washington, DC.

Major industries have balked at making "green tech" investments, in part because Congress, the Obama administration and some national environmental organizations are now sending mixed messages.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the hesitation to invest in green technology by major industries comes because of "a lack of certainty" from Congress and the Obama Administration.(http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-energy-invest22-2010feb22,0,1993754.story)

Echoing this sentiment from the environmentalist side, a recent article in The Nation by Johann Hari slams big environmental groups for taking money from polluting industries and then softening their stances on a wide range of environmental legislation. Hari claims this strategy by Big Green groups like the Sierra Club has baffled followers and misdirected legislative initiatives.(http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/hari)

Put into earthier terms, while Congress and these mainstream environmental groups flirt with "green," they haven't yet given up on their love of fossil fuels, and the oil and gas companies are certainly spending lots of money to make sure they don't. At risk are the chances for success of a coherent national policy on renewable energy. Indeed, the positions now staked out over natural gas vividly illustrate this dilemma.

Petroleum companies are now making an aggressive push into natural gas. In doing so, they have taken on a new set of allies: big national liberal and environmental organizations. The Sierra Club's Karl Pope has recently barnstormed around the country with oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, extolling the virtues of natural gas in public forums. They say it burns cleaner than coal, which is true, and then add, hopefully, that it will lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

On the other side, people damaged by natural gas exploration in the Mountain West feel a sharp sense of betrayal at the hijacking of the "green economy" by old school petroleum companies in cahoots with people and groups who they had previously viewed as allies. They point out that industry claims of how clean natural gas burns are overwhelmed by the problems natural gas drilling creates.

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Todd Darling is a Los Angeles based filmmaker. His documentary "A Snow Mobile for George" looks at the impact of environmental de-regulation upon individuals. Shot during a cross-country trip, the film tells the stories of Yurok salmon fishermen (more...)
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Will The Natural Gas Boom Undercut Renewable Energy?

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