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Clearing the Air on Fracking: Reflections from our Recent Webinar

When citizens have questions about hydraulic fracturing, where do they turn? In our recent webinar, Fracking: Advancing a Science-Informed Debate, myself and my colleague Andrew Rosenberg, the director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS, did our best to convey as much information as possible from our recent report, Toward an Evidence-based Fracking Debate. Read More

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Convenient Science for Hire: the American Council on Science and Health Puts the Cart before the Horse

In business and politics, it is a good thing to have science on your side. Scientific study informs and enlightens our decision making on everything from food to energy to health. But what happens when the science is inconvenient to your business model? Read More

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Fact Checking ALEC’s Attacks on Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards

Members of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee heard testimony this week on two bills that would roll back Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Backed by fossil-fuel funded special interest groups and their political allies, these proposals would undermine Ohio’s emerging clean energy industries and make the state even more dependent on coal and natural gas. Read More

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Fracking and Community Action: Make Your Voice Heard!

with Kate Konschnik, Policy Director, Environmental Law and Policy Program, Harvard Law School

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is unlocking unconventional oil and gas resources and transforming our energy profile. Within the last decade, we have seen a steady uptick in domestic oil and gas production, a dramatic drop in American natural gas prices, and the retirement of old coal plants forced out of the market by more efficient gas-fired energy. We’ve seen oil and gas production in places where it never before existed, and a remarkable scale and intensity of development. Read More

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Fracking and My Community’s Socioeconomic Stability: Will My Boomtown Go Bust?

with Susan Christopherson, Ph.D. Professor, Cornell University, Department of City and Regional Planning

The U.S. conversation surrounding recent oil and gas development through hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and newer technologies like horizontal drilling frequently centers around risks to the environment—to water and air—and to public health. At the national level, these risks are juxtaposed against the promise of jobs and energy independence. Read More

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Electricity Rate Hikes in California? Not the Jolt Clean Energy Opponents Claim.

A coalition of industry trade groups that have long opposed California’s clean energy policies funded a report about a month ago that blamed California’s rising electricity rates on — you guessed it — California’s clean energy policies. Since the California Energy Commission just updated its electricity and natural gas demand forecast, which contains revised estimates for rate increases that are 15-20 percent lower than original predictions (see slide 3 of Tuesday’s presentation), I thought it was time for a blog on the subject of renewables and rates. Read More

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The EPA Carbon Standards for New Power Plants: How They’ll Work and What’s Next

On September 20, the EPA released re-proposed draft power plant carbon standards for new power plants. These standards can serve as a backstop against future emissions. Together with standards for existing power plants, due next June, this is an opportunity to curtail global warming emissions from the largest single source of these emissions in the U.S. They are also a step forward in delivering on the President’s Climate Action Plan. Read More

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Fracking and My Community’s Air Quality: Is There Something in the Air?

with Daniel Tormey, Ph.D., P.G.; Technical Director, Cardno ENTRIX

Los Angeles, California

If you’ve been following the discussion of pollution risks around the unconventional oil and gas development that has been enabled by hydraulic fracturing and other technologies, then you’ve probably heard a lot about water contamination risks. These risks are certainly worth discussing, but discussion of air pollution risks also deserves some attention. We want to take the time to talk about air quality concerns—not just because this is where Gretchen’s past interests lie—but also because current research suggests there may be real risks from air pollution near oil and gas activities. Read More

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Companies, Climate, and Trade Groups: The Saga Continues with New Data Released

Some companies just don’t like sharing.

At least that’s my first takeaway from viewing the newly released reports from CDP (formerly, the Carbon Disclosure Project) that we’ve been waiting for. The international not-for-profit organization officially released this year’s data last night at the New York Stock Exchange. Every year, CDP collects climate reporting data it obtains by annually surveying companies worldwide, but this year, the organization asked companies something new. And the results (and lack thereof) are quite revealing. Read More

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Gas Ceiling: Assessing the Climate Risks of an Overreliance on Natural Gas for Electricity

The President’s Climate Plan announced in June touts natural gas as an important climate solution, as I discussed in a recent blog. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the first step in implementing one of the key components of his plan by re-issuing carbon standards for new power plants. The next and more important step in this process is for the EPA to issue draft carbon standards for existing power plants by June 2014. (For more details, see this blog by my colleague Rachel Cleetus).

While standards for existing plants will help reduce power sector carbon emissions, they could lead to an overreliance on natural gas if they are not designed in the right way. In addition, the U.S. will need to make much deeper cuts in emissions to limit some of the worst impacts of climate change, as I discussed in my blog in July. A new UCS report released today shows that a transition from a coal- to a natural gas-dominated electricity system would not be sufficient to meet U.S. climate goals. Instead, a diversified electricity system—with amplified roles for renewable energy and energy efficiency and a modest role for natural gas—would both limit the threat of climate change and mitigate the risks of an overdependence on natural gas. Read More

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