Natural gas is billed as much cleaner than coal, and of course that’s true in the burning of the fuel. But what about the harvesting of the gas? New studies suggest…
…the rush to develop the nation’s vast, unconventional sources of natural gas is logistically impractical and likely to do more to heat up the planet than mining and burning coal.
The problem, the studies suggest, is that planet-warming methane, the chief component of natural gas, is escaping into the atmosphere in far larger quantities than previously thought, with as much as 7.9 percent of it puffing out from shale gas wells, intentionally vented or flared, or seeping from loose pipe fittings along gas distribution lines. This offsets natural gas’s most important advantage as an energy source: it burns cleaner than other fossil fuels and releases lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Fracking is said to be a major cause of methane leakage. Oil and gas producers disagree.