How Clean is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is not “clean” when the means of extraction are factored in

“A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming. . . .When the total emissions of greenhouse gases are considered, HVSWHF-obtained natural gas and coal from mountain-top removal probably have similar releases, and in fact the natural gas may be worse in terms of consequences on global warming.  Greenhouse gas emissions from HVSWHF-obtained natural gas are estimated to be 60% more than for diesel fuel and gasoline.”  That’s because of the huge amounts of diesel fuel burned during the development, processing, and transport of natural gas, including the “fossil fuels used to build pipelines, truck water, drill wells, make the compounds used in drilling and fracturing, and treat wastes, and the loss of carbon-trapping forests. . . . Note that as fossil fuel energy resources become more diffuse and difficult to obtain (as is gas in the Marcellus Shale), the energy needed to extract them and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with this effort go up substantially. . . . The leakage of methane gas during production, transport, processing, and use of natural gas is probably a far more important consideration.  Methane is . . . 73-times more powerful than CO2 per molecule in the atmosphere.”

Source: Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing, by Robert W. Howarth, Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology, Cornell University, March 17, 2010

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