Scientist tarnishes natural gas's clean image

Various technical topics related to science, energy, climate change and coal & gas.

Scientist tarnishes natural gas's clean image

Postby HVPA_research » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:04 am

The gas industry world-wide never tires of declarations that natural gas is "the new clean fuel", "our bridge to the future", "best response to climate change" and so on. This clean image is particularly important to the coal seam gas and shale gas industries because their "natural gas" is anything but "natural" (see . Now a Cornell scientist tarnishes natural gas's clean image. This scientist is Robert Howarth and he claims that gas may be actually more environmentally damaging then coal.

While battles rage over Marcellus shale gas drilling, Cornell scientist Robert Howarth has quietly released a report that could change everything. His surprising claim: Natural gas has a far greater carbon footprint than oil, and could even be more harmful to climate than coal. (See table below.)

Howarth says most attempts to measure the climate impact of natural gas have failed to account for methane escaping from leaky pipelines. Since methane is a very potent greenhouse gas – with about 72 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide – even small amounts have a big impact on climate change.

RH: If you look at the Department of Energy's analyses of greenhouse gas emissions from those three fuels, they will say gas is the cleanest and coal is the dirtiest. But that's based on the emissions just from combustion. Energy for digging the pipeline, laying the pipe, trucking the water, hydraulic fracturing, dealing with the waste—those all emit greenhouse gases.
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