Natural Gas Is to Clean Energy What Vaping Is to Clean Lungs. Business Needs a Renewable Path Forward, Not Half-steps.
Washington, D.C.— As Congress continues to negotiate the bipartisan package, it is critical that we put the country back on track to meeting our emission reduction goals in a way that doesn’t protect dangerous fossil fuels like natural gas, which has a host of issues associated with it. American businesses have an amazing track record of progress and improvement that has led to lasting change when resisting the temptation to take half-steps in favor of true innovation, such as the goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The inclusion of natural gas as a clean energy source is exactly such a half-step. David Levine, the Co-founder and President of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) said, “Natural gas is a false solution. While it’s less damaging to climate change than coal, it’s far from what we need to rely on for a healthy environment, which is 100 percent renewable energy sources. By investing in natural gas, we are locking in decades more of pollution and harmful chemicals in our own communities. Only through clean energy are we able to build resilient communities and healthy economies. Allowing natural gas in the Clean Electricity Standard is not bold leadership but a loophole for the status quo.”
On July 22, the US Chamber of Commerce and fossil fuel companies proposed language for the statute that would allow natural gas to be considered a clean electricity source. This goes against many who have flagged natural gas as a danger for communities while tethering our economies to a fossil fuel that is arguably less harmful than coal but still far from the gold standard of renewable and sustainable. In many states, policies have moved forward to place a moratorium banning fracking due to health and environmental pollution concerns. ASBC and its partner organizations have backed policies that support renewable energy and breaking free from dirty fossil fuel usage and in 2015 our organization published a detailed report on the need to rethink fracking. Over 1,500 businesses in NY joined the American Sustainable Business Council and the New York Sustainable Business Council, which supported policies advocating for a statewide moratorium on fracking, which was originally prohibited in 2015 and permanently banned in 2020.
The recently proposed language by the US Chamber of Commerce includes natural gas acts as a loophole that could limit the effectiveness of the policy while putting more communities at risk from dangerous and leaking aging natural gas infrastructure. Recently natural gas has been linked to dangerous explosions in Massachusetts, California, Kansas and Texas. Experts believe replacing this antiquated infrastructure would cost millions and lock in the use of dirty fuels for generations to come. Alternatively, renewable energy from solar wind and coupled with battery storage continues to offer a clean, reliable, and safer alternative.
2021 is set to be another banner year for clean electricity as 70% of new energy coming online is coming from wind and solar. While the industry has made breakthrough strides over the past 10 years, it still only makes up only 20% of the US energy mix. In order to meet the nations ambitious climate goals, not only does this rate need to increase, we also must be actively replacing dirty energy choices such as coal and gas with clean alternatives. As the nation continues to meet new energy demands, the price of renewables paired with battery storage continues to plummet. This is good news for both American consumers as well as the communities that have too long been sickened by fossil fuel pollution, and good news for business and our economy.