This week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator McCarthy delivered a key message to investors. At a Barclays-hosted conference in New York, she stressed the importance of investing in new pipeline infrastructure to transport natural gas across the country. As she explained, doing so will be a boon for the economy and the environment:
“This is really about building a healthy industry, a healthy investment market, and lowering carbon pollution,” McCarthy said.
Administrator McCarthy went on to say,
“This industry again needs investment and infrastructure that values the industry the way this administration values this industry,” McCarthy said.
That’s a pretty big rebuke to anti-fracking “divestment” groups like Ceres and As You Sow, which have long claimed that “divesting” from natural gas and all fossil fuels is the way forward on climate, and put out reports claiming that investments in oil and gas are no good. Actually, according to President Obama’s top environmental regulator, one of the most effective investments in lowering greenhouse gas emissions is natural gas infrastructure.
Administrator McCarthy’s comments also further marginalize anti-fracking activists who have been staging protests over the past few months against natural gas pipelines in the Northeast. The need for expanding natural gas infrastructure is something that the governors of New England have recognized – and they have come together to address the issue. Late last year, the governors of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont (all but one are Democrats by the way) announced a plan for their six states to expand natural gas pipelines, which would bring environmental benefits as well as lower energy prices to their regions.
Anti-fracking activists flew into a blind panic: No Fracked Gas in Mass – an offshoot of Moveon.org – organized a rally this summer to protest what they call the “proposed Kinder Morgan Fracked Gas Pipeline.” This protest involved “arranged busses from Greenfield and other points,” which, of course, are run on fossil fuels. Three advisors to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee even quit their posts on the day of the rally. As one outlet reported, they did so because they believe the governor’s policies “hinder the state’s goal of significantly cutting greenhouse gases, including its consideration of the new natural gas pipeline.”
In Vermont, anti-fracking activists from Rising Tide Vermont, a group that says its mission is to take “direct action to confront the root causes of climate change” chained themselves to the door of Vermont Gas Systems in South Burlington to protest the expansion of a pipeline through Addison County. In Maine, groups like the Chesapeake Climate Action Network – a group that claims to be “dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.” – are relentlessly protesting the proposed Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas facility, which they complain will create “a web of fracking wells, pipelines, and processing facilities.”
In Virginia, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe backed a proposal to build a pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina, which he called a “game changer.” As the AP reported, “Mike Tidwell, executive director with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said he was ‘downright disappointed’ that McAuliffe would support a project that would facilitate fracking.”
Well, it turns out that President Obama’s top environmental regulator doesn’t exactly agree with any these folks fighting pipelines in the name of climate change: in fact, as she clearly stated this week, investments in natural gas pipelines as an important a tool for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Administrator McCarthy has touted the environmental benefits of natural gas. She also recently pointed out that natural gas has been a “game changer” in reducing traditional pollutants as well as carbon emissions, and that “[r]esponsible development of natural gas is an important part of our work to curb climate change.”
Now, her comments on pipelines only further show the folly of anti-fracking groups, who have been wrong on natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions all along.