In the world of climate science, energy and climate change policymaking, 20 years is a long time. Eugene’s 1999 franchise agreement with Northwest Natural has no place in that world.
First, in 1999, the fracked gas revolution had not yet begun. It wasn’t until Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and exempted fracking operations from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts — the infamous “Halliburton Loophole” — that fracking really took off. Now 15 million Americans live close to fracking operations.
A recent study found that methane leaks from natural gas production erase any advantage that natural gas offers advantages in fighting climate change. Methane is 90 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
Today, man made climate change is much better understood than in 1999. In 2000 the United Nations climate agency, the IPCC, rated the probability that human action was heating the planet at 66 percent, while in 2014, the last report, the probability was 95 percent.
It no longer makes sense for Eugene to allow Northwest Natural to use public rights-of-way. The climate, and the world, have changed. Eugene must change, too.