Reports from international agencies usually make for dull reading. “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas,” from the Paris-based International Energy Agency, does not. It should be required reading for regulators and the industry — and for anyone who cares about energy, the environment and climate change.
The report examines the perils and promise of the global natural gas boom brought about by a controversial drilling process called hydraulic fracturing. While some environmentalists are determined to shut hydrofracturing down, the report says that shale gas can be safely extracted, and at relatively low cost, and is preferable to coal in terms of emissions that contribute to global warming. But the report also makes clear that regulators and the industry will have to be much more aggressive in protecting the water and the air from pollutants released by the process.