Study Shows Natural Gas Fracking More Harmful than Coal

“Natural gas may be a marginally cleaner fossil fuel than coal, but obtaining it through the processing of fracking turns out to be more damaging to the climate than coal ever was. Fracking is a process that splits deposits of natural gas deep underground, using high pressure chemicals. A new study at Cornell has revealed that the process releases large quantities of methane, and other harmful gases, yielding 20% more global warming per unit than coal. The process, also called hydraulic fracturing, creates open fissures in shale so that natural gas flows freely and can be obtained from a well. Fracking also imposes dangers to drinking water, as the chemicals used in the process can leak into groundwater and drinking water reservoirs…

Although natural gas burns cleaner than coal and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the fracking process can negate these benefits. The study shows that the greenhouse gas footprint of fracking shale gas causes the direct emission of harmful carbon dioxide and methane. Methane is over 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2, so it stands to greatly increase the pace of global warming, even over a short period of time.” For the complete article >

Why is this so important? Since the true costs of fracking, both its impact on groundwater and the atmosphere, are not reflected in the price, its artifically low price makes it difficult for clean more renewable energy options to compete. Right now natural gas is relatively inexpensive and makes up about 42% of California’s energy supply mix. Natural gas is often hailed by the Obama Administration and many others as a clean source of energy, but the fracking process may make it one of the worst climate polluters.