Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Obama's top scientist says keeping fossil fuels in the ground is 'unrealistic' in the U.S.

White House science adviser John Holdren's comment Monday that it was "unrealistic" to halt fossil fuel extraction altogether in the U.S. may have seemed like stating the obvious. But it has further highlighted the tensions that exist even among top American policy makers and environmental advocates concerned about curbing the rate of climate change. Bernie Sanders and his followers, influential green movement leaders such as Bill McKibben and powerful organizations such as the Sierra Club, have been pushing a "keep it in the ground" approach. For these advocates, a future strongly dependent on wind, solar and batteries can't come fast enough. And they have led campaigns not only to oppose fracking for natural gas but also to block - successfully - the Keystone XL pipeline. Most recently, Sanders' supporters have been deeply engaged in a push to make the Democratic Party's official platform more strongly reflective of this point of view, although they were unsuccessful in trying to incorporate a fracking ban into the platform. Yet Obama administration officials and many energy policy wonks continue to suggest that we will need to rely on burning natural gas, nuclear energy and even outfitting coal plants with carbon capturing technologies for some time. In contrast to "keep it in the ground," their approach has sometimes been labeled "all of the above." Meanwhile, Clinton has called natural gas, in particular, a "bridge" to a cleaner energy future. The tension was reawakened yesterday at this week's annual conference held by the Energy Information Administration. According to a Tweet by Brian Scheid, a reporter for Platts, Holdren yesterday called the "keep it in the ground" movement "unrealistic" in his keynote speech at the conference. Morning Consult also reported that Holdren stated, "The notion that we're going to keep it all in the ground is unrealistic. We are still a very heavily fossil-fuel dependent world."...more

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