AC/DC Controversy of the 1880s Applies to Natural Gas Today: Reflections After 2011 MIT Energy Conference


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enforcing the known best practices to avoid problems caused by faulty execution. Some of the problems today caused from natural gas mining are simply poor execution of how to dispose of the waste water, and this should be able to be easily fixed.

3. Real Problems: The produced water from the fracking process does have some troubling elements in it and while it seems like a solvable problem, this is what we should be focused on. We should also be focused on the amount of water that is required for this process and move to minimize this environmental cost. Clearly, water will be an increasingly precious commodity, and we do not simply want to be trading off water for energy.

In this debate, there are clearly parties who have entrenched interests (as there are in most every issue in the United States). In this case there is the Coal lobby and then there is the Natural Gas lobby. Unfortunately, in this case, these contributing conflicted parties are not balanced, as the power of the Coal lobby dwarfs that of Natural Gas.

I very much look forward to a third-party honest broker to evaluate the situation and tell us what the reality is. This is why I am so much looking forward to the final MIT Study on Natural Gas, which is due out in April. The benefits of natural gas, specifically our ability to exploit the $4 trillion worth of newly discovered shale gas, are enormous and I would hate to see it get side tracked for even a year with a FUD campaign like Edison ran against alternating current.

The stakes, as James Woolsey laid out so starkly in the energy conference panel of March 5, 2011, are way too high. Now is not the time to be frying animals to scare people. Now is the time to work on solutions.

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Bill Aulet is the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also the author of “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup”, published by Wiley, which was released in August 2013. Follow @BillAulet

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