Bloomberg News reports today that natural gas has moved to the “naughty list” of environmental activist groups like the Sierra Club. That is hardly news, considering far-left activist groups like the Sierra Club have always advocated a world reliant on wind and solar power alone. Unlike coal power, which presents a host of environmental issues that concern the American public, natural gas power is here to stay whether the Sierra Club likes it or not.
Coal powered the American economy during the past century because it was by far our most affordable, widely available power source. Although far-left activist groups habitually oversell coal’s environmental impact, a full-spectrum environmental assessment indeed shows coal is our most problematic power source from an environmental perspective. The negative effects of smog, mining, etc., have been troublesome but not so troublesome as to negate the many economic and human welfare benefits of affordable, abundant energy.
Natural gas has overtaken coal as America’s most prevalent power source not because far-left activist groups continue to complain about coal’s environmental impacts. Instead, natural gas has overtaken coal because advances in fracking and directional drilling technologies allow American energy companies to recover our vast natural gas resources at minimal cost. Natural gas power is now less expensive than coal power, and that is inducing energy providers to build more natural gas power plants, often while simultaneously shutting down older, less efficient coal plants.
Truth and sound public policy motivate energy realists to point out where far-left activist groups are making exaggerated environmental claims against coal. But natural gas is and will continue to replace coal power primarily on economic grounds. And energy realists should applaud market economics delivering a product that actually outcompetes coal. It is market forces and affordable energy we support, not one particular form of power that competes in that market.
Bloomberg News gives the impression that natural gas’ ascendancy is due primarily to far-left activist groups opposing coal rather than the improving economics of natural gas production. That is a false narrative. Far-left activist have always attacked coal yet coal persevered until natural gas could outcompete coal economically.
Taking its false narrative a step further, Bloomberg News gives the impression that far-left activist groups will soon send natural gas power the way of coal power. Dream on. To the contrary, natural gas’ ascendancy provides energy realists an opportunity to expose the Sierra Club and others as the far-left activist groups they are. Natural gas outcompetes wind power in a full-spectrum environmental analysis. Natural gas production does not entail developing hundreds of square miles of previously pristine lands like wind power requires. Natural gas production does not kill over a million birds and bats each year while producing very little power, like wind power does. And natural gas is a very clean-burning energy source that produces half or less of the carbon dioxide and traditionally defined air pollution that coal power does. The American people are not stupid, and if the far left believes it can force expensive and unreliable wind power on the American people at the expense of abundant, affordable, clean-burning natural gas, let the far left waste its resources doing so.