Sierra Club Says, More Domestic Natural Gas!

By March 6, 2008Energy

That’s the clear message we take from this Oil and Gas Investor interview with Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Oil and Gas Investor Are you a proponent of more natural gas drilling (domestic production of natural gas), or shipments (via LNG or pipeline from Canada)?

Carl Pope Our view is that we should actually let markets work. We should make it possible for the most efficient-energy sources to meet the largest part of our energy needs. There’s a lot of opportunity—people in the natural gas industry tell me—to produce more natural gas domestically by using new technologies, and we’re in favor of that.

On the other hand, if you look at LNG, although it may have a place in certain regions, taking a bunch of natural gas from Indonesia and moving it to the United States is intrinsically not terribly efficient, so we would rather see what we can do with domestic production here in the United States before we start substituting imported natural gas for imported oil.

We think we have enough energy resources here in the United States that if we harness innovation—if we use every cubic foot, every gallon, every Btu, every kilowatt hour—to do real work and deliver real value, we think the United States can generally be energy independent and we’d like to see that. So our focus is on domestic sources, and the most efficient and cheapest domestic sources first.

That’s really something.

UPDATE (3 p.m.): In the extended entry, you’ll see a news release from David Willett, national press secretary of the Sierra Club, disputing the Oil and Gas Investor interview.

Again, Sierra Club’s official policy on natural gas production, which Mr. Pope explained in the full interview, remains unchanged–it includes opposition to new off shore and onshore drilling in environmentally inappropriate areas, or using less than the best available technology. We support using newer and better technologies for increased production from existing fields. We recognize that gas is cleaner than coal or oil but is still not as preferable as renewables and efficiency.

Yes, and everywhere is “environmenally inappropriate.”

Apparently even a mixed message is too disturbing for the Sierra Club to contemplate, so they’re walking back Pope’s statement. At least that’s the way it seems.


TO: Interested Parties

FR: David Willett, National Press Secretary, Sierra Club

RE: False Claims of change in Sierra Club policy on Natural Gas

Contrary to information circulating via press release, the Sierra Club has not changed its position on natural gas. You may have seen a press release put out by the trade publication Oil and Gas Investor claiming that the Sierra Club had changed its position on natural gas and was now endorsing the entire industry. The Oil and Gas Investor press release, especially the headline, mischaracterized comments made by Carl Pope in an interview with the publication. Everything Mr. Pope actually said in the interview was consistent with Sierra Club’s existing policy. It is a complete mischaracterization to interpret Mr. Pope’s interview responses as an endorsement of the entire natural gas industry, every company within the industry, and all of its practices

Again, Sierra Club’s official policy on natural gas production, which Mr. Pope explained in the full interview, remains unchanged–it includes opposition to new off shore and onshore drilling in environmentally inappropriate areas, or using less than the best available technology. We support using newer and better technologies for increased production from existing fields. We recognize that gas is cleaner than coal or oil but is still not as preferable as renewables and efficiency. Details on policy below.

Sierra Club Policy on Natural Gas Production:

Existing Natural Gas Fields: North American production of natural gas from conventional onshore sources peaked more than three decades ago. Even with the expansion of offshore drilling and unconventional sources such as coalbed methane and “tight sands,” domestic natural gas production may soon reach its peak and then decline. Despite supply and price concerns, it is still a much cleaner fuel than coal and emits less CO2 per unit of energy produced. During the transition to a clean energy future, the Sierra Club is generally not opposed to continued production from existing fields following best practices to limit environmental damage.

New Onshore Natural Gas: As conventional wellfields are depleted, there is a strong push to open up sensitive areas, particularly in the mountain west, that have been restricted for natural gas production. Given the availability of substantial efficiency and renewable resources, we oppose new conventional gas fields and all coalbed methane (CBM), a very destructive method which forces gas and groundwater out of seams of associated coal.

New Offshore Natural Gas: Onshore natural gas production in the US peaked in 1973. Offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico has filled the gap, though it has caused substantial damage to marine resources. The Sierra Club strongly supports the longstanding moratorium on exploration and production on the Outer Continental Shelf of the east and west coast, the coast of Alaska, and the Florida Gulf Coast.

David Willett
National Press Secretary
Sierra Club

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • smokehouse says:

    It seems the morons at the “Sierra Club” are looking to turn the 21st century back to the 19th century. Willett exposes his trash, than gets in a jet to go off to some useless meeting, where he will be met with someone with a SUV. These people are buffoons. They are the reason that oil in $100.00+ a barrel while America is at the mercy of the Arabs.

  • TO: Interested Parties

    FR: David Willett, National Press Secretary, Sierra Club

    RE: False Claims of change in Sierra Club policy on Natural Gas

    Contrary to information circulating via press release, the Sierra Club has not changed its position on natural gas. You may have seen a press release put out by the trade publication Oil and Gas Investor claiming that the Sierra Club had changed its position on natural gas and was now endorsing the entire industry. The Oil and Gas Investor press release, especially the headline, mischaracterized comments made by Carl Pope in an interview with the publication. Everything Mr. Pope actually said in the interview was consistent with Sierra Club’s existing policy. It is a complete mischaracterization to interpret Mr. Pope’s interview responses as an endorsement of the entire natural gas industry, every company within the industry, and all of its practices

    Again, Sierra Club’s official policy on natural gas production, which Mr. Pope explained in the full interview, remains unchanged–it includes opposition to new off shore and onshore drilling in environmentally inappropriate areas, or using less than the best available technology. We support using newer and better technologies for increased production from existing fields. We recognize that gas is cleaner than coal or oil but is still not as preferable as renewables and efficiency. Details on policy below.

    Sierra Club Policy on Natural Gas Production:

    Existing Natural Gas Fields: North American production of natural gas from conventional onshore sources peaked more than three decades ago. Even with the expansion of offshore drilling and unconventional sources such as coalbed methane and “tight sands,” domestic natural gas production may soon reach its peak and then decline. Despite supply and price concerns, it is still a much cleaner fuel than coal and emits less CO2 per unit of energy produced. During the transition to a clean energy future, the Sierra Club is generally not opposed to continued production from existing fields following best practices to limit environmental damage.

    New Onshore Natural Gas: As conventional wellfields are depleted, there is a strong push to open up sensitive areas, particularly in the mountain west, that have been restricted for natural gas production. Given the availability of substantial efficiency and renewable resources, we oppose new conventional gas fields and all coalbed methane (CBM), a very destructive method which forces gas and groundwater out of seams of associated coal.

    New Offshore Natural Gas: Onshore natural gas production in the US peaked in 1973. Offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico has filled the gap, though it has caused substantial damage to marine resources. The Sierra Club strongly supports the longstanding moratorium on exploration and production on the Outer Continental Shelf of the east and west coast, the coast of Alaska, and the Florida Gulf Coast.

    David Willett
    National Press Secretary
    Sierra Club

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