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Our readers are passionate about what type of energy will power the world's vehicles in the future. You have your electric car camp, your hydrogen camp, the gasoline traditionalists and also natural gas supporters like T. Boone Pickens, who believes the U.S. sits atop so much natural gas by divine intervention. Depending on what camp you presently reside in, two new studies on natural gas emissions may fuel your passion or weaken your resolve.

The first report (courtesy of ProPublica) states that analysis done by the Environmental Protection Agency shows much higher methane emissions during extraction of natural gas than previously thought. For instance, during hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, methane levels are thought to be 9,000 times higher than before. These new numbers mean some gas-fired power plants are only about 25 percent cleaner than coal instead of the 50 percent that most natural gas supporters assert.

The second study, by Cornell professor Robert Howarth, takes a look at the global warming contribution of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. He determined that this method of natural gas extraction has a larger footprint than even gas or coal over a 20-year time frame.

With such a large part of the emissions coming from the extraction and processing of natural gas, it's of little surprise that many are taking a not in my backyard stance, such as Erica Fernandez a young girl who helped block a liquefied natural gas facility and pipeline from being built in her neighborhood.

[Source: Infrastructurist and TreeHugger| Image: sirdle – C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 18 Comments
      Eideard
      • 6 Months Ago
      Mostly non sequitur.
      Peter
      • 6 Months Ago
      ...and hydrogen (at least currently) comes from natural gas . CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2 CO + H2O → CO2 + H2 So Hydrogen is good as a measure to get off oil but really not a way to reduce C02 emissions until H2 can be made in a more economical manner that doesn't depend on fossil fuels.
        letstakeawalk
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Peter
        Electricity also comes from natural gas. 63,623,000 MWh in the month of Feb., 2011, from 497,996 million cubic feet of gas. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/flash/flash.pdf Cleaning up the production of natural gas should be a high priority. Regarding hydrogen, fortunately there are several other ways to produce it, cleanly and renewably.
      Marcopolo
      • 6 Months Ago
      2WM, I don't think John was referring to serious, rational environmentalists. By tree huggers he is referring to the extremists, and malcontents who use the 'green' cause as a device to peddle anti-capitalist, anti-human propaganda. John Harlan, lives the lifestyle city dwellers like you and I rant on about preserving. So cut him a little slack. I'm no great advocate for T.BoonePickens, but if the guy ideas contain some truth they are of value. Natural gas exists, we have an energy need looming in the near future as the result of oil depletion. Natural gas technology should be developed to generate electricity as cleanly as possible. The legitimate concerns Stacy raises, can be addressed by Governments ensuring sensible and effective regulations are enforced. No-one will invest in Natural Gas exploration and development,( which benefits every member of society), philanthropically! So unless you are advocating, leaving Natural Gas in the ground, why abuse T.Boone Pickens or any other corporation for providing the risk capital and enterprise to develop an industry for the betterment of all?
      • 6 Months Ago
      The biggest plus is EV's beat any fuel fed car ecnomically!
      Noz
      • 6 Months Ago
      I still believe the future of energy (and I mean relatively far future in terms of the myopic and narrow-minded readers here) will be a combination of electric/hydrogen sources. Unfortunately the majority of people are too self-centered to think about other generations and merely care about themselves....never-mind that most, if not ALL the luxuries and amenities they appreciate came from sacrifices and stepping stones taken from past generations...
        Noz
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Noz
        Yes I know they are carriers...you're getting into semantics. My point is that hydrogen has the potential to be made by clean energy sources....perhaps things we've not even discovered yet. Shocking I know....something that few people here seem to grasp.
        Dave R
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Noz
        Electricity and hydrogen are not energy sources. They are energy carriers. To produce electricity we need a source - currently mostly fossil fuel (gas/coal), nuclear, big-hydro. In the long term, a transition to sustainable renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, smaller scale hydro) will have to be the major source of energy - our current lifestyle is simply not sustainable at our current rates of pollution and fossil fuel consumption without dire consequences.
      harlanx6
      • 6 Months Ago
      Nothing is good enough. What they really hate is anyone making a profit. They are not called tree huggers for no reason. Everyone else hails the use of natural gas as incremental improvement over oil. T. Boone Pickens just happens to be a good cheerleader for whatever he is heavily invested in, but at least we know what his agenda is. The agenda of the tree huggers is complete control over the economy, which can't be achieved without destroying business.
        Marcopolo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Well, you didn't expect a comment of that nature to be popular in some quarters did you? But, of course you are quite right. True, Natural Gas is a fossil fuel, but it can solve many energy problems. All over the the world, natural gas is far more plentiful than oil. No one (including T,Boone Pickens) has said that technology to make natural gas a clean as possible isn't desirable. The whole extreme environmentalist movement, is based on false science, misconceptions and just plain ignorance. The problem is, it has attracted all those old socialist-left types whose cause (along with funding) collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then it's become a sort of religious cult, and anyone who questions is vilified as a heretic. Very annoying for sensible, rational environmentalists.
        Stacey
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Why is it that some people make erroneous, overly simplified assessments of groups of people with no basis of fact or even the slightest effort at research. I would consider myself an "eco-mentalist" (to use Jeremy Clarkson's term), and I'm sure you would consider me a tree-hugger. I also happen to be a small business owner. I have no problem with people or companies profiting. What I have a problem with is people and companies polluting and not paying to clean it up. If you are a profitable company that is polluting and destroying habitat, and you don't pay for the affects of that pollution and destruction, you are cheating the people and habitats that are affected by your negative actions. And I really have no sympathy for your insecurity when people point out that you're being selfish, short-sighted and insensitive. If you can figure out a way NOT to pollute AND be profitable, more power (and profit) to you!
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Tree huggers want to control the economy and control business? Speaking of which, what industry are you in? tin foil hat design and manufacturing?
        Noz
        • 6 Months Ago
        @harlanx6
        Harlan...another moronic comment from you. Better a treehugger than a warmongering mass murderer .... I bet if it were an oil company cheer-leading you'd be kissing their ass.
          Noz
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Noz
          Are you trying to be as big of a dumba$$ as Harlan? You're doing a good job.
          Marcopolo
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Noz
          You'd rather they were kissing your ass? hmmm... well maybe you are just a Donkey lover.
      Arun Murali
      • 6 Months Ago
      Build the natural gas power plants near the extraction point and distribute the electricity. Build the power plants using advanced turbines that can burn not so clean natural gas. Make electricity as our main power source and develop devices to use that electricity as efficiently and cheaply as possible. Make all sources of power(today and in the future) to deliver electricity rather than 200 different forms of power. This will lead to faster adoption of newer technologies and energy content. Let large corporations that always makes noise about how its impossible to make money go down. Fund smaller companies that are ready to put lot of work(to become big) and make less noise about taxes. Not to mention that our generation also might have to learn a lesson or two about sacrifices. Lastly remember to build a bulk of your energy sources using sources that give power for relatively long periods of time(not for 25 years or less).
      • 6 Months Ago
      Clearly, this is going to be a larger part of the debate -- the days of natural gas being perceived as a clean, green source of energy in the battle against climate change are coming to an end, despite the best greenwashing efforts of the natural gas industry. Here's an interesting take on the change: http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?p=402. It's definitely worth a look.
      JP
      • 6 Months Ago
      NG has a lot of problems that many would rather overlook than face up to. At best it's a temporary stopgap that merely postpones the inevitable move to more widespread renewables, with a large potential to do serious environmental damage from it's drilling operations and it's use, and some real safety concerns if used in autos. http://ephase.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-not-natural-gas.html
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