Lower Oil Prices Slow Development Of Risky, Energy-Intensive Fossil Fuels

NEW YORK (AP) — Deepwater drilling rigs are sitting idle. Fracking plans are being scaled back. Enormous new projects to squeeze oil out of the tar sands of Canada are being shelved.

Maybe low oil prices aren’t so bad for the environment after all.

The global price of oil has plummeted 31 percent in just five months, a steep and surprising drop after a four-year period of prices near or above $100 a barrel.

Not long ago a drop of that magnitude would have hit the environmental community like a gut-punch. The lower the price of fossil fuels, the argument went, the less incentive there would be to develop and use cleaner alternatives like batteries or advanced biofuels.

But at around $75 a barrel, the price is high enough to keep investments flowing into alternatives, while giving energy companies less reason to pursue expensive and risky oil fields that also pose the greatest threat to the environment.

“Low prices keep the dirty stuff in the ground,” says Ashok Gupta, director of programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Economists and environmentalists caution that if the price goes too low, and stays there, consumption could swell and the search for alternatives could stop. They say a good —> Read More Here


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