MCEA Staff blog regularly about current environmental issues and how they relate to MCEA's work.
Important article in the current Nation from Bill McKibben on the explosive growth in methane emissions from the US due to the fracking boom. The springboard for the article is a recent Harvard study we have previously discussed, a study that leads to the conclusion that US reductions in CO2 emissions over the past decade may well have been cancelled out by the increases in methane emissions from natural gas.
Natural gas is often touted as a necessary "bridge" to renewable energy, and the Obama Administration has heavily promoted it because burning natural gas puts half the CO2 into the atmosphere as burning coal. MCEA has often included natural gas plants in its proposals before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, and Xcel Energy currently plans to replace a chunk of the lost capacity from retiring the Sherco 1 and 2 coal units with a new natural gas power plant at the same site. Indeed, Xcel tried to lock in that outcome at the legislature this year, but now appears to be backing off and agreeing to stick with the regulatory approach. MCEA's position is that it is too early to commit to a natural gas replacement, but expect this to be a very contentious issue.