Last week, Professor Anthony Ingraffea published a strong op-ed in The New York Times, in which he noted that "unless [natural gas] leaks can be kept below 2 percent, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal."
Now, a new study confirms those concerns, finding that, on average, 6 to 12 percent of the methane produced is leaking.
Joe Romm at Climate Progress has the details:
A major new study in Geophysical Research Letters by 19 researchers — primarily from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) — suggests natural gas may be more of gangplank than a bridge.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called the emissions rates “alarmingly high.” While the researchers conducted 12 flights, “they selected just one as their data source for this paper,” ClimateWire reports. Researchers actually measured higher emissions on other flights, but atmospheric conditions during those flights “gave the data more uncertainty.”
The Uinta Basin is of particular interest because it “produces about 1 percent of total U.S. natural gas” and fracking has increased there over the past decade.
This study confirms earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings continue to be replicated elsewhere, they would utterly vitiate the direct climate benefit of natural gas, even when it is used only to switch off coal.
The case against natural gas as a wise way to transition away from coal or oil is getting stronger and stronger.