It’s rare to see environmentalists partnering with big energy companies, but if you’re trying to create system-wide change it’s imperative to be seated at the table where decisions are being made. A segment on Sunday’s PBS Newshour explored one part of EDF’s ongoing work to ensure that the unacceptable risks to our air, water, land and communities associated with the development of natural gas are reduced.
In the segment, Mark Brownstein, who leads EDF’s work on natural gas, explained our position like this: “You have to take the time to learn their industry, learn their concerns, and be able to talk with folks on their terms about what you see the problems are and also what you see the opportunities are to fix those problems.”
While EDF is neither pro- or anti-natural gas, we believe natural gas can offer advantages over coal or oil, if pursued the right way. But the question is whether our natural gas resources can be developed in a way that adequately protects communities and the environment from the significant risks that come along with this heavy industrial activity. Industry has yet to demonstrate this. And the true measure of success is how do you perform in the field – do you do the right thing all the time? Strong regulations and consistent compliance are the only assurances. But coalitions can have a role to play in advancing industry practice and setting a new, higher bar for performance.
To get a more detailed sense about EDF’s approach to natural gas and how our work on the Center for Sustainable Shale Development fits in, see this earlier post. Also, EDF President Fred Krupp recently gave a speech at Cornell University, where he talked about the most effective ways to safeguard ecosystems and communities from the unacceptable impacts of natural gas development.