Natural gas has no climate benefit and may make things worse

Natural gas has no climate benefit and may make things worse

SOURCE: Think Progress and The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and CEMUS (PDF) DATE: November 13, 2017 SNIP: The evidence is overwhelming that natural gas has no net climate benefit in any timescale that matters to humanity. In fact, a shocking new study concludes that just the methane emissions escaping from New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.” If the goal is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, a recent report by U.K. climate researchers finds “categorically no role” to play for new natural gas production. Back in 2014, a comprehensive Stanford study published in Science concluded “A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem.” The Stanford analysis found a leakage rate of 5.4 percent (plus or minus 1.8 percent) — enough to give natural gas no net climate benefit for decades, even if it only replaced coal (which it doesn’t). These conclusions have been confirmed by data and observations from a later 2014 study as well as 2016 satellite data and surface observations analyzed by Harvard researchers. Certainly there is not complete agreement between every study, but there is little doubt that U.S. methane leakage rates are considerably higher than the official numbers from the EPA, which themselves are mostly based on industry-provided estimates, not actual...
Natural gas emissions will blow Europe’s carbon budget at current levels

Natural gas emissions will blow Europe’s carbon budget at current levels

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 7, 2017 SNIP: Governments have drastically underestimated methane emissions from natural gas and will miss the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2C unless they urgently scale down its use, a major new study has found. Continuing natural gas emissions at present levels will add 0.6C to global warming and, with other fossil fuel use, exhaust Europe’s carbon budget – the amount it can safely and fairly emit – in less than a decade, says the report (PDF) by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. It concludes that Europe must phase out all fossil fuels including gas by 2035 and decrease emissions by 12% per year – far beyond its current ambitions – to keep to the Paris 2C...
What has fracking done to our air quality?

What has fracking done to our air quality?

SOURCE: Houston Chronicle DATE: October 31, 2017 SNIP: Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s. Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress. But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution. As a result, in recent years there has been a spike of research to determine what the extent of emissions are from fracked oil and gas wells – called “unconventional” sources in the industry. While much discussion has surrounded methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, less attention has been paid to air toxics. [W]herever hydrocarbons are produced, refined or stored, there will be some emissions of pollutants. In the age of fracking, the large operations at conventional well sites have been replaced by hundreds of well pads dotting the landscape. Each requires the transportation of water, chemicals and equipment to and from these pads as well as the removal of wastewater, and none is regulated like any larger facility would be. As a result, unconventional production has not only increased truck traffic and related emissions in shale areas, but also established a renewed source of hydrocarbons. They enter the atmosphere from leaks at valves, pipes,...
‘This is a really big deal’: Canada natural gas emissions far worse than feared

‘This is a really big deal’: Canada natural gas emissions far worse than feared

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 18, 2017 SNIP: Alberta’s oil and gas industry – Canada’s largest producer of fossil fuel resources – could be emitting 25 to 50% more methane than previously believed, new research has suggested. The pioneering peer reviewed study, published in Environmental Science & Technology on Tuesday, used airplane surveys to measure methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure in two regions in Alberta. The results were then compared with industry-reported emissions and estimates of unreported sources of the powerful greenhouse gas, which warm the planet more than 20 times as much as similar volumes of carbon dioxide. “Our first reaction was ‘Oh my goodness, this is a really big deal,” said Matthew Johnson, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and one of the study’s authors. “If we thought it was bad, it’s worse.” The study then sought to conservatively extrapolate the findings, correcting only for sites that are home to heavy oil. What they found was in Alberta – home to 68% of Canada’s natural gas production, 47% of its light crude oil production as well as 80% of all crude oil and equivalents – total emissions were likely 25 to 50% higher than previous government estimates. The findings excluded mined oil sands, which are believed to be responsible for about 11% of methane...
Baltic Sea clams ‘giving off as much gas as 20,000 cows’

Baltic Sea clams ‘giving off as much gas as 20,000 cows’

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: October 13, 2017 SNIP: Scientists have found clams and worms in the Baltic Sea are giving off as much gas as 20,000 dairy cows. They are worried because large amounts of methane and nitrous oxides are being released from the bacteria in their guts. The discovery of these greenhouse gases means they will need to be taken into account when tackling global warming. A Cardiff and Stockholm universities’ study found 10% of methane emissions from the Baltic Sea came from clams. The study’s co-author Dr Ernest Chi Fru, from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, said: “What is puzzling is that the Baltic Sea makes up only about 0.1% of Earth’s oceans, implying that globally, apparently harmless bivalve animals at the bottom of the world’s oceans may in fact be contributing ridiculous amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that is unaccounted...