By Ted Gleichman
How many times have you heard the meme “Natural gas is the bridge to the future”? We’ve known for years that is not true, but now we can quantify exactly how much ‘natural’ gas — that is, fracked gas or fossil gas — can contribute to solving the climate crisis. It’s an important number: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. A Goose Egg. A Shut Out. In fact, a complete myth. Let’s call this fallacy the Methane Myth, and it is past time to end it.
A top national leader in fighting this obsolete belief for many years now, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune just struck a blow in the national press against Oregon’s own worst, most dangerous, most destructive fossil fuel exploitation project: the scheme to bring fracked gas from Canada and/or the Rockies through Southern Oregon for liquefaction in Coos Bay and export to Asia.
Mike Brune. Photo credit: Sierra Club
Brune used his January 12 Huffington Post article to highlight a comprehensive new national report on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector by Oil Change International (OCI). OCI is a top national ally to Sierra Club, and focuses on state-of-the-art deep analytical work, “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the … transition to clean energy.”
Brune created his own brilliant framing on the Methane Myth in a 2013 debate on fracking sponsored by The Economist, when he summed it up: “Natural gas is not a bridge: it’s a gangplank.” Sierra Club has long been the top eco-group fighting coal, and on Brune’s watch has dramatically expanded its national leadership as one of the key players against oil and gas as well. Brune, working with leadership from the Member-elected national Board of Directors and with strong support from the seasoned executive team he’s built and strengthened, and the rapidly-diversifying national and local staff, has also led the Sierra Club into its most innovative and ground-breaking evolution yet: a deep commitment to environmental justice and its growth, social justice and immigration, and the fight against income inequality and for green jobs.
The OCI report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Energy Project (JC/PC) is the best assessment that has ever been done and is summarized in this press release. The OCI evaluation of the climate devastation that this Canadian fracked-gas export scheme represents includes three key components:
- It is comprehensive. It includes and charts every aspect of fracked-gas extraction, distribution, processing, liquefaction, shipping, and overseas consumption — all based specifically on JC/PC.
- It is conservative. OCI used the numbers provided by JC/PC for their own direct in-state emissions, from the JC/PC application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a federal construction license and eminent domain approval, taking them at their legally-binding word. Then they added in the best peer-reviewed science available for other emissions. This approach means that the analysis is solid: it cannot be attacked as puffed or overblown. It is intentionally on the low-end of the damage assessment.
- It is completely damning. OCI shows that there is no “climate benefit” whatsoever in mining fossil gas, shipping it across the Pacific, and burning it in Asia. The Canadian developer’s continued claims that this is good for planet are just another climate-denier distortion in the Methane Myth.
My simple summary is this:
There is no fossil fuel solution to the fossil fuel crisis.
The only solution is to keep it in the ground and build the just transition.
Ted Gleichman, Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Team, Oregon Chapter
The end of the Ruby Pipeline near Malin, Oregon, bringing fracked gas from the Rockies to the interstate interconnection point where the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would begin.
Photo: Ted Gleichman