January 07, 2013

Natural gas — the bridge fuel to more global warming?

A good new article from High Country News notes two basic facts:

1. To truly be a "bridge fuel" that is less creative of climate change than coal as an electric power plant fuel, total leakage from natural gas production must be under 3 percent or so, due to methane's own greenhouse gas effect.

2. In Utah's natural gas fields, currently under intense development, that leakage is reportedly as high as 9 percent.

Go read the full story for more about leakage rates, measurement issues and more. That includes a link to a study that says the leakage is worse from fracked gas wells. Here's the level of the problem:
Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.
Not close to a "bridge fuel" in that case.

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