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No Fracking Way: The Natural Gas Boom Is Doing More Harm Than Good

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  • Deborah Goldberg: Fracking Feeds Fossil Fuel Addiction

    Clip: In her opening argument, Deborah Goldberg of Earth Justice asserts that fracking is an overhyped initiative that will continue to feed our addiction to fossil fuels and further deteriorate our environment.

  • Does Natural Gas Fracking Improve Americas Security?

    Clip: In the debate whether America's natural gas boom is doing more harm than good, the panelists argue whether finding a solution at home liberates the United States from conflict for oil in the Middle East.

  • Joe Nocera: Fracking for Energy Dependence

    Clip: Joe Nocera, columnist for the New York Times, argues fracking at home ends dependence on foreign oil.

Debate Details

Natural gas, touted for its environmental, economic, and national security benefits, is often thought of as the fuel that will “bridge” our transition from oil and coal to renewables. The ability to extract natural gas from shale formations through a method called hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast, untapped sources—by some estimates, the U.S. now sits on a 100-year supply. But contamination from toxic chemicals used in the fracking process has been the source of increasing health and environmental concerns. Can natural gas be part of a clean energy solution, or is it a dangerous roadblock to a fossil-free future?

The Debaters

For the motion

Deborah Goldberg

Managing Attorney at Earthjustice

Deborah Goldberg is a Managing Attorney at Earthjustice, the world’s first and largest nonprofit environmental law firm, where she focuses on legal... Read More

Katherine Hudson

Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper

Katherine Hudson is the Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper, a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River... Read More

Against the motion

Joe Nocera

Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

Joe Nocera is an op-ed columnist. Before joining The Opinion Pages, he wrote the Talking Business column for The New York Times and was a staff writer... Read More

Sue Tierney

Managing Principal at Analysis Group; Former Assistant Secretary for Policy at U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Susan Tierney is a Managing Principal at Analysis Group, where she specializes in the electric and gas industries. She has consulted to companies... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals are used in the hydraulic fracturing process.
  • The use of these chemicals—which may include benzene and radium—threatens water supplies and creates massive amounts of toxic wastewater.
  • Man-made earthquakes have been linked to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.
  • Natural gas is not clean. According to the EPA, the amount of methane leaking into the atmosphere during gas production is double what was previously estimated. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is twenty times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
  • Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, hydraulic fracturing exempt from EPA regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except in instances where diesel fuel is used. As a result, companies are not required by the federal government to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process.
Against The Motion
  • Natural gas burns cleaner than traditional fossil fuels, emitting half as much carbon dioxide and less than a third as much nitrogen oxides as burning coal.
  • According to America's Natural Gas Alliance, natural gas supports 2.8 million American jobs and shale gas alone will support 800,000 jobs by 2015.
  • Natural gas is a bridge fuel that buys us time to develop new technology and make renewable energy sources a viable option. As of 2010, natural gas makes up 25% of the energy consumed in the U.S. 45% of the oil we consume is imported, while most of the natural gas we consume is produced here in the U.S.
  • The natural gas boom helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and brings us a step closer to energy independence and greater security.


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The Research

The Research

Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Earthworks October 26
March 1, 2016

Earthworks believes the process of fracturing a well is far from benign. Hydraulic Fracturing 101 provides an overview of some of the issues and impacts related to this well stimulation technique.

Drilling Down

Multiple Authors
October 26, 2011

Articles in the Drilling Down series from The New York Times examine the risks of natural gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry.


Multiple Authors
March 1, 2016

ProPublica has provided award-winning coverage of natural gas drilling

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