Monday, May 16, 2016

The Myth that Fracked Natural Gas is a Bridge Fuel

Now that the EPA is beginning to reign in methane emissions, we need to expose the myth that natural gas is a bridge fuel that will help us to transition to renewable sources of energy. The logic supporting fracking is based on the fact that there are lower carbon emissions associated with the burning of gas compared to coal.

However, a number of studies clearly demonstrates that when you factor the leaks, fracking for gas, is not clean and it may even have a more destructive climate impact than coal.

In an Independent article, Geffrey Lean, concludes: “The new study strikes another blow at the strategy of both the US and British governments to rely on shale gas as a relatively clean ‘bridge’ from dirty fossil fuels to non-polluting renewable sources”.

It is important to note that this is not a new finding. The realization that fracked gas is not a bridge fuel was contained in the conclusion of the IEA's World Energy Outlook published in 2011 titled the "Golden Age of Gas."

A 2011 study by Tom Wigley, a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), also showed that switching from coal to natural gas will not reduce global warming.

Think Progress has referred to natural gas as a "bridge to nowhere" and they describe fracking as a "gangplank."

When fracked gas in included in the equation, all of President Obama's climate efforts are negated. Sadly the myth that natural gas is a bridge fuel persists despite years of study. In August 2015, Hillary Clinton delivered a keynote address at the National Clean Energy Summit in which she said we need to "build a safe bridge to a clean energy economy." Natural; gas is not a safe bridge to the clean energy economy.

As reviewed by Bill McKibben, two researchers by the name of Howarth and Ingraffea produced a number of papers which show that even if only 3 percent of fracked gas leaks, this would do more climate damage than coal. They estimate that methane leak rates from shale operations are between 3.6 and 7.9 percent. As Howarth says, "We closed coal plants and opened methane leaks, and the result is that things have gotten worse."

We now know that leakage rates are far worse than expected.  Even if we are able to radically reduce the leaks Howarth says that methane emissions will keep rising as long as we keep fracking.

Related
Leaking Methane Associated with Fracking
Natural Gas Will Not Slow Climate Change and it Will Impede the Growth of Renewables
Natural Gas (Methane) is Not Clean Energy
Video - Methane is a Potent Greenhouse Gas
The Porter Ranch Methane Leak Could be a Catalyst for Change
Jurisdictions Across the US are Saying "No" to Fracking
Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water
Natural Gas Versus Renewable Energy
Fracking and Earthquakes go Together like Sodom and Gomorrah
Obama Begins to Reign-in Methane Emissions from Fracking
Whats the Fracking Problem
Natural Gas Explosions Highlight Safety Concerns

No comments: