Duke Energy’s massive expansion of fracked gas collides with climate science and the high-risk supply and pricing of fracked gas
Statement by Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – Watchdog nonprofit NC WARN today petitioned federal regulators to accept us as a party in the legal case over a 524-mile gas pipeline proposed by Duke Energy and Dominion Power that would pump natural gas from West Virginia’s fracking fields to power plants in North Carolina. The project is part of a major shift to make gas “the backbone” of Duke Energy’s future, according to CEO Lynn Good.
Ms. Good seems delusional about the prospects for fracked gas. Duke execs continue to ignore both the science showing natural gas being even worse for the climate than coal due to pervasive leakage of methane, and the economic revelations that the fracking boom was built on a bubble that’s already imploding.
We are pleased to join the numerous nonprofits, businesses and individuals in Virginia who have become parties in the case conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC has authority to rule whether the $5 billion pipeline is needed. If the pipeline is completed, Duke and partner Dominion Power would presumably seek permission from state utilities commissioners to force monopoly-captive customers to pay for the boondoggle.
Duke is currently seeking state and federal permission to acquire Piedmont Natural Gas for another $6 billion. That merger would bring Duke’s share of the pipeline to 50 percent.
NC WARN is also working with nonprofit allies and impacted communities to coordinate grassroots opposition to the pipeline. A summary of NC WARN’s three legal arguments:
The use of natural gas is already speeding global warming because of methane’s global warming potential (up to 100 times that of carbon dioxide over the next decade) and a huge increase in methane leakage throughout the US natural gas industry.
In an affidavit filed in this case by NC WARN, Cornell University’s Dr. Robert Howarth states, “even small emissions of methane make the global warming consequences of using natural gas worse than coal.” He concludes “that natural gas – particularly as it comes increasingly from shale gas – is not a bridge fuel” and “that building new plants to produce electricity from natural gas is a disastrous strategy.”