natural gas

Fracking and the Environment

A new RFF report sheds light on the critical issues.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about natural gas and fracking.  A recent report by Resources for the Future sheds light on some of the answers.  RFF is unusual among Washington think tanks — an honest broker that uses expertise to try to answer hard questions.  The report reaches three important conclusions. The first …


A Bridge Made of Natural Gas Is a Shaky Thing

When will we start to manage our natural gas resources?

For the last half century, domestic natural gas policy has looked something like this: Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. It is versatile and economical. So, let’s pull it out of the ground and use it as fast as we can. In the last decade, the policy has been appended to include …


Ten Energy Stories to Watch in 2014

What will shake the energy world this year?

In our energy law classes at Cal, we like to start the day by talking about Energy in the News. The media never fails us. Every day, there are multiple energy-related stories of significance touching on resource development, new technologies, policy shifts, jobs, regional politics, prices, international relations, or the environment. Once you start looking …


With Utility Power Purchases, Does the Environment Matter?

When does the approval of a contract trigger environmental review?

If an electric utility asks regulators to approve a contract to purchase power from someone else’s power plant, should the regulators consider the environmental implications before saying yes or no? Of course they should. But let me ask the question again, using a bit of California legalese: Does a decision by the California Public Utilities …


Not Enough Money in the Pipeline

When regulators approve rates for a utility such as Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), they are making their best guess as to how much money the company will need to cover various kinds of activities. The utility starts out the process by offering its position on how much it will need for things like …


King Coal’s Fading Grip

According to a new study from Duke, coal may be on the way out. as “[l]ow natural gas prices and stricter, federal emission regulations are promoting a shift away from coal power plants and toward natural gas plants as the lowest-cost means of generating electricity in the United States.” The authors estimate that “the economic …


Is California Fracking Regulation Out of Focus?

I’ve long been skeptical of the push that some on the left have made to ban hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.  From an environmental perspective, I’d much rather have a natural gas-based fuel mix than one based on coal, and in any event, if there is that much money in the ground, people are going …


The Current U.S. Energy Pathway is Paved with Coal, Oil and Natural Gas

How well are we doing, in our efforts to strip fossil fuels from our energy mix? If you want to believe the most recent estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the answer is: not so well. As EIA prepares its 2013 report on the impact of various proposed policy changes, it asks itself: …


Fracking, Methane, and Moving Toward Better Data Through Collaboration

Is using natural gas produced through fracking better for the environment than using coal?  The answer is an unqualified maybe .  That’s because we don’t have good enough data to  know definitively.  But a  new collaboration between academics, the fracking industry and environmentalists aims to fill the data gap. First, some background. The boom in …


Golden Rules for Fracking

Well, this is embarrassing.  Kevin Drum, one of the best bloggers out there, posted a few days ago on the issue of whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment.  Kevin covers the ground that we have here before, namely: Yes, natural gas is better than coal or other fossil fuels in terms …