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U.N. Report Calls U.S. Fracking History Cautionary Tale

The drop in prices for renewable energy could turn almost $1 trillion in natural gas infrastructure investments into stranded assets. (Pexels)
The drop in prices for renewable energy could turn almost $1 trillion in natural gas infrastructure investments into stranded assets. (Pexels)
June 4, 2018

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – After looking back at the history of shale gas extraction in the United States, international development and trade experts say hydraulic fracturing should be approached with caution by countries considering ways to meet growing energy demands.

Mitch Jones, a senior policy advocate with the watchdog group Food and Water Watch, says a new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development adds to a growing body of research pointing to hazards associated with fracking.

"Fracking in the U.S. – whether it's in Pennsylvania, or in Wyoming and North Dakota or Colorado – serves as a cautionary tale for other countries that are considering fracking for shale gas on their own," he states.

In its recent Commodities at a Glance report, the United Nations' trade division points to groundwater contamination, increased seismic activity and methane waste as fracking's biggest drawbacks.

Analysts also say all countries should move as quickly as possible to stop burning fossil fuels, including shale gas.

The Trump administration has called for expanded fossil fuel production in an effort to achieve energy dominance.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming has not yet responded to a request for comment on the report.

The U.N. agency also warns that investments in shale gas should not come at the expense of renewable energy and efficiency strategies, both considered critical to limit the impacts of climate change.

Jones points to a recent Rocky Mountain Institute study warning that nearly $1 trillion in natural gas infrastructure could end up as stranded assets in investment portfolios.

"Instead, what we really need to do if we want to be energy dominant is be renewable energy dominant,” he stresses. “We need to build the wind turbines in places like Wyoming and Texas and Colorado. We need to build the solar panels throughout the Southwest."

The U.N. report notes that natural gas still has a role to play in the transition from the current fossil fuel economic model, as nations work to achieve goals set in Paris for a low-carbon economy with access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all by 2030.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY