Frack, baby, frack: Good news
Published: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
A new study finds natural gas wells leak far less methane than worst-case estimates predicted, suggesting industry emissions indeed are low enough that burning gas instead of coal benefits the climate. It's particularly significant because the study is the result of a joint effort among nine drillers and the liberal Environmental Defense Fund.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and led by University of Texas researchers, the study of 190 onshore U.S. production sites — including wells established through hydraulic fracturing — pegs methane leakage at about 1.5 percent at most. That demolishes earlier, flawed, far higher findings and is below the 2-percent level at which industry critics say natural gas becomes a climate detriment.
The study is the first of 16 examining methane leaks at various stages of gas production, so the final verdict isn't in. But Steve Everley of the oil and gas industry website energyindepth.org says it shows the industry's “overall emissions profile is not only low, but actually less than what even the Environmental Protection Agency had estimated.”
Mr. Everley says “activist fear-mongering about methane emissions has been exposed as fraudulent by the most comprehensive research on the subject to date,” noting that the study also “can serve as a roadmap the industry can use” to reduce emissions.
A product of industry-environmentalist cooperation, it provides common ground on which to build broader consensus favoring the expanding role that natural gas is playing in meeting energy needs.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PSERS time bomb: Tick, tick, tick, tick ...
- Saturday essay: A special tinsel
- Christmas in Connellsville: Catch the spirit
- The IRS scandal: FBI games
- The Thursday wrap
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- Corrections reinvention
- Accord in Geneva: Smelly side deals, too
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- More ObamaCare fallout: Medicare disadvantage
- Greensburg Laurels & Lances