Author Topic: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought  (Read 909 times)

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Offline Rapunzel

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Offline mountaineer

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2013, 09:22:34 AM »
Gas drilling is booming in my area. Wells are everywhere. Farmers who were practically destitute now are able to continue the profession they love, bolstered by the royalties they receive from drillers. The itinerant gas workers have brought a lot of money into the area. Granted, eventually they'll move on.
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EPA Report a Blow To Anti-Fracking Efforts
Agency lowers its estimation of methane leaks
April 29, 2013
By KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press

 PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production, in a shift with major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists: Does the recent boom in fracking help or hurt the fight against climate change?

Oil and gas drilling companies had pushed for the change, but there have been differing scientific estimates of the amount of methane that leaks from wells, pipelines and other facilities during production and delivery. Methane is the main component of natural gas.

The new EPA data is "kind of an earthquake" in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. "This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks."

The scope of the EPA's revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That's about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.

The EPA revisions came even though natural gas production has grown by nearly 40 percent since 1990. The industry has boomed in recent years, thanks to a stunning expansion of drilling in previously untapped areas because of the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals to break apart rock and free the gas inside.

Experts on both sides of the debate say the leaks can be controlled by fixes such as better gaskets, maintenance and monitoring. Such fixes are also thought to be cost-effective, since the industry ends up with more product to sell.

"That is money going up into the air," said Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, adding he isn't surprised the EPA's new data show more widespread use of pollution control equipment. Pielke noted that the success of the pollution controls also means that the industry "probably can go further" in reducing leaks.

Representatives of the oil and gas industry said the EPA revisions show emissions from the fracking boom can be managed.

"The methane 'leak' claim just got a lot more difficult for opponents" of natural gas, noted Steve Everley, with Energy In Depth, an industry-funded group.

In a separate blog post, Everley predicted future reductions, too.

"As technologies continue to improve, it's hard to imagine those methane numbers going anywhere but down as we eagerly await the next installment of this EPA report," Everley wrote.

One leading environmentalist argued the EPA revisions don't change the bigger picture.

"We need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel: coal, oil and also gas," Bill McKibbern, the founder of 350.org, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Natural gas provides at best a kind of fad diet, where a dangerously overweight patient loses a few pounds and then their weight stabilizes; instead, we need at this point a crash diet, difficult to do" but needed to limit the damage from climate change.

The EPA said it made the changes based on expert reviews and new data from several sources, including a report funded by the oil and gas industry. But the estimates aren't based on independent field tests of actual emissions, and some scientists said that's a problem.

Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor of ecology who led a 2011 methane leak study that is widely cited by critics of fracking, wrote in an email that "time will tell where the truth lies in all this, but I think EPA is wrong."

Howarth said other federal climate scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have published recent studies documenting massive methane leaks from natural gas operations in Colorado and other Western states.

Howarth wrote that the EPA seems "to be ignoring the published NOAA data in their latest efforts, and the bias on industry only pushing estimates downward - never up - is quite real. EPA badly needs a counter-acting force, such as outside independent review of their process."

The issue of methane leaks has caused a major split between environmental groups.

Since power plants that burn natural gas emit about half the amount of the greenhouse gases as coal-fired power, some say that the gas drilling boom has helped the U.S. become the only major industrialized country to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions.

But others believe the methane leaks negate any benefits over coal, since methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas.

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Offline GourmetDan

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2013, 12:01:47 PM »
Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought

Time to ramp-up the demonization of 'fracking'...


"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." - Ecclesiastes 10:2

"The sole purpose of the Republican Party is to serve as an ineffective alternative to the Democrat Party." - GourmetDan

Offline GourmetDan

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2013, 12:04:55 PM »
But others believe the methane leaks negate any benefits over coal, since methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas.

Anybody ever look at the impact of the worst greenhouse gas of all... water vapor?  'Bad news' for a planet whose surface is 75% water?

Anybody, ignoring the elephant in the room?

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." - Ecclesiastes 10:2

"The sole purpose of the Republican Party is to serve as an ineffective alternative to the Democrat Party." - GourmetDan

Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2013, 02:17:07 PM »
Anybody ever look at the impact of the worst greenhouse gas of all... water vapor?  'Bad news' for a planet whose surface is 75% water?

Anybody, ignoring the elephant in the room?


Nope.  Even when way too many so called smart people bought into global warming I just rolled my eyes at how gullible and UN educated people are.

Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2013, 03:02:42 PM »
Gas drilling is booming in my area. Wells are everywhere. Farmers who were practically destitute now are able to continue the profession they love, bolstered by the royalties they receive from drillers.

The problem here, Mountaineer, is that these people are uppity and apparently will not listen to their betters. Call a community meeting and require everyone to watch "Promised Land" so they can be told how they should really feel about gas drilling from outstanding petroleum engineers John Krasinski and Matt Damon. That will straighten them out.
We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams

Online jmyrlefuller

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Re: Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2013, 06:47:58 PM »
Gas drilling is booming in my area. Wells are everywhere. Farmers who were practically destitute now are able to continue the profession they love, bolstered by the royalties they receive from drillers.

The problem here, Mountaineer, is that these people are uppity and apparently will not listen to their betters. Call a community meeting and require everyone to watch "Promised Land" so they can be told how they should really feel about gas drilling from outstanding petroleum engineers John Krasinski and Matt Damon. That will straighten them out.
Don't stop there. Make sure they also see Gasland.


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