May 30, 2019 – To tackle climate change, natural gas has got to go.
Expert opinion on climate change policy has been evolving quickly. The opinion of policymakers has not always kept up. One area where this split is particularly notable is around the role of natural gas in a clean energy future.
For Democrats, support for natural gas has always been a signifier of moderation on climate policy. President Obama encouraged natural gas production and proudly took credit for the emission reductions it produced when substituting for coal. It was en vogue during the Obama years to refer to natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” a fossil fuel that could help reduce emissions while truly clean alternatives were developed.
To this day, there are “centrist” Democratic groups pushing the line that embracing natural gas (and nuclear, and carbon sequestration) is the “moderate” road forward on climate change.
No one knows yet what Joe Biden meant when he promised a “middle ground” on climate strategy a few weeks ago (he’s expected to release some policy shortly). But the first thing I thought of when he said it was natural gas. Biden is likely to try to signal that he’s a centrist by embracing natural gas’s role as a bridge fuel.
It’s a beguiling strategy for Democrats who are fearful of being seen as too liberal. But I’m afraid it’s a dead end.