Debunking Methane Myths - Take Two!

Several weeks ago we examined the new set of talking points that anti-shale activists have used to attack the strong environmental record of shale gas. As we noted then, activists are now claiming methane emissions from shale gas production operations mean that these energy resources are much more harmful than previously thought.

The fact that activists settled on this issue as their latest angle to attack American shale energy was no coincidence. Natural gas is a low carbon fuel and this fact does not sit well with many professional supporters of other more expensive forms of energy. Media outlets were quick to seize on the issue as the "fracking’s Achilles’ heel."

Unfortunately for these handwringing activists and their media cheerleaders, these claims are now coming unraveled. While the idea that natural gas is somehow a climate menace always rang a little hollow, new research is demonstrating just how off base these claims are.

This week the Denver Post and other news outlets reported that University of Colorado researchers "using sophisticated measurements taken from aircraft" have determined that “methane leak rates from gas fields in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania…are lower than some previous estimates.”

Nature also reported on these "low emissions of methane from major US gas fields" observing that "methane emissions from major natural-gas fields in the eastern and central United States are relatively low, suggesting that overall methane emissions from gas production may not be as high as feared."

The lead author of the study, University of Colorado Atmospheric Chemist Jeff Peischl, commented that the findings were "good news for the atmosphere and for the industry’s bottom line."

These findings are indeed good news and yet another example of why shale gas is perhaps the most critical component of any plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also growing our economy and protecting American jobs.

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