Natural gas may burn clean in a car, but it still has serious problems to investigate

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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