In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly endorsed the practice of using hydraulic fracturing to produce unconventional natural gas, calling it “the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations . . . .” Mayor Bloomberg believes fracking will help consumers save money, spur a resurgence in industrial jobs in the U.S., improve air quality and cutting carbon emissions by reducing the nation’s dependence on coal, and create a nimbler electricity grid that will allow for the integration of more renewable energy sources.
While Mayor Bloomberg endorsed fracturing, he made clear that he does not support “the loud voices at the extremes” who call for no additional regulation of the practice. To that end, Mayor Bloomberg’s charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has pledged $6 million to the Environmental Defense Fund to further its work to minimize the impacts of fracturing by urging the 14 states that account for 85 percent of the unconventional gas reserves in the U.S. to pass regulations:
- Disclosing all chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process
- Optimizing rules for well construction and operation
- Minimizing water consumption, protecting groundwater and ensuring proper disposal of wastewater
- Improving air pollution controls, including capturing leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas
- Reducing the impact on roads, ecosystems and communities.
The Environmental Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization that aims to find solutions to environmental problems by “link[ing] science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships.” It is worth noting that while Mayor Bloomberg’s donation will undoubtedly put pressure on states to create additional layers of regulations on the oil and gas industry, the non-profit is not fundamentally against the development of unconventional oil and gas. Were Mayor Bloomberg fundamentally opposed to the industry, he could have donated to Sierra Club’s “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign, which is the recently created spin-off of Sierra Club’s decade-old “Beyond Coal” campaign that seeks to “end the coal era” and to which Bloomberg donated $50 million last year.
This article was authored by Aaron S. Heishman, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author see here.