Obama Adviser: Keep-It-in-the-Ground Movement ‘Unrealistic’

Morning ConsultMorning Consult | July 11, 2016 | Jack Fitzpatrick

President Obama’s top science adviser on Monday said natural gas will be an important bridge fuel for decades and called the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement unrealistic.

His gradual, modest vision for moving away from fossil fuels differs greatly in tone from some more liberal environmentalists.

The administration is dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but it also believes natural gas has a role to play in the fight against climate change, said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s annual conference.

“The notion that we’re going to keep it all in the ground is unrealistic,” Holdren said. “We are still a very heavily fossil-fuel dependent world.”

In addition to the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, Holdren pointed to natural gas’s role in helping cut greenhouse gas emissions, at least when compared with coal. Holdren said natural gas will be a net positive, in terms of cutting emissions, for the next “30 or 40 years.”

“I subscribe to the view that natural gas is a very helpful bridge fuel to a much lower emissions future,” Holdren said.

Holdren’s comments come as natural gas seems to be in President Obama’s crosshairs. The Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule in May regulating new sources of methane emissions from natural gas systems, and it has started developing a much broader rule for existing sources. While the public discussion on climate change tends to focus on carbon emissions, Obama has turned more attention toward methane, which is emitted less prolifically but packs a stronger punch in terms of greenhouse gas effects.

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