Presented in partnership with The Aspen Ideas Festival
Natural gas, touted for its environmental, economic, and national security benefits, is often thought of as the fuel that will "bridge" our transition from oil and coal to renewables. The ability to extract natural gas from shale formations through a method called hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast, untapped sources-by some estimates, the U.S. now sits on a 100-year supply. But contamination from toxic chemicals used in the fracking process has been the source of increasing health and environmental concerns. Can natural gas be part of a clean energy solution, or is it a dangerous roadblock to a fossil-free future?
John Donvan is the moderator for "Intelligence Squared U.S." He is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has hosted "Nightline," "World News," "Good Morning America," and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” in addition to producing “My Generation” for PBS. He has also served as ABC’s Chief White House correspondent and held postings in London, Jerusalem, Moscow and Amman. Recognized by the National Magazine Awards for his 2011 Atlantic profile piece “Autism’s First Child,” he is currently writing a book on the history of autism to be published by Crown in 2013.
Deborah Goldberg is a Managing Attorney at Earthjustice, the world's first and largest nonprofit environmental law firm, where she focuses on legal advocacy and litigation related to global warming and environmental health. Originally established as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Earthjustice provides legal representation--at no cost--to more than 1,000 clients, ranging from large national groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Audubon Society, to smaller community coalitions, such as Friends of the Everglades. Before joining Earthjustice, Goldberg was the Democracy Program Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
Katherine Hudson is the Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper, a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. It is led by President Paul Gallay and its Chief Prosecuting Attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Hudson joined Riverkeeper after nearly 25 years spent in government protecting the environment of New York State. Hudson has been Assistant Attorney General in the office's Environmental Protection Bureau, and has served in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, working in all program areas, including air quality, water quality, solid and hazardous waste and mining.
Joe Nocera is an op-ed columnist at The New York Times. Before joining the opinion pages in 2011, he wrote the Talking Business column and was a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. He also serves as a regular business commentator for NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” Before joining the Times in 2005, Nocera spent ten years at Fortune, where he held a variety of positions, including contributing writer, editor-at-large, executive editor, and editorial director. He was the Profit Motive columnist at GQ until May 1995, and he wrote the same column for Esquire from 1988 until 1990. Nocera has won three Gerald Loeb Awards, including the 2008 Award for Commentary, and three John Hancock Awards for excellence in business journalism. He is the author of three books, including All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis.
Susan Tierney is a Managing Principal at Analysis Group, where she specializes in the electric and gas industries. She has consulted to companies, governments, non-profits, and other organizations on energy markets, economic and environmental regulation and strategy, and energy facility projects. A former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy and state public utility commissioner, she is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's energy project and the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board. She was appointed to the National Petroleum Council and serves as an ambassador for the U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment program, an initiative of the Department of Energy and MIT.
In the debate whether America's natural gas boom is doing more harm than good, the panelists argue whether finding a solution at home liberates the United States from conflict for oil in the Middle East.
In his opening argument, Joe Nocera, columnist for the New York Times, asserts that fracking and other energy capturing initiatives at home improve our global security by ending our dependence on foreign oil.
In her opening argument, Deborah Goldberg of Earth Justice asserts that fracking is an overhyped initiative that will continue to feed our addiction to fossil fuels and further deteriorate our environment.