NYTimes: A Fresh Scientific Defense of the Merits of Moving from Coal to Shale Gas

There’s been a fresh development in a prolonged intellectual tussle among researchers at Cornell University over the climate benefits of moving from coal to natural gas, including gas extracted from shale using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Lawrence M. Cathles of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, with three colleagues, has offered a fresh rebuttal to the conclusions of a team led by Robert Howarth, a biogeochemist at the university.

Here’s the conclusion from Cathles et al. and a link to their long reply:

The data clearly shows that substituting natural gas for coal will have a substantial greenhouse benefit under almost any set of reasonable assumptions. Methane emissions must be five times larger than they currently appear to be before gas substitution for coal becomes detrimental from a global warming perspective on any time scale. The advantage of natural gas applies whether it comes from a shale gas well or a conventional gas well. [Read the rest in a pdf here.]

Previous rounds in this continuing exchange were reviewed in my post “On Shale Gas, Warming and Whiplash.”  MORE

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