10 Apr 2012:
Natural Gas Drilling
Causes Sizeable Methane Leaks, Study Says
A new study says that methane leaks from natural gas drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing, are likely higher than previously estimated and concludes that converting vehicles from gasoline to compressed
natural gas will actually produce more greenhouse gas emissions unless methane leaks are significantly reduced. The study, authored by scientists from the Environmental Defense Fund and several universities, says that replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas-fired power plants does lead to a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, though not as steep a drop as gas industry advocates contend. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, examines the “technology warming potentials” of different fossil fuels and concludes that significantly better research needs to be undertaken to determine exactly how much methane — a far more potent but shorter-lived greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — leaks during the entire cycle of natural gas drilling and transport. The U.S. government has estimated the leakage rate at 2.4 percent, but some other studies suggest it is higher.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.