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Ohio Utica Shale

Natural gas is false solution for global warming, group says

By Bob Downing Published: June 5, 2014

From Food and Water Watch on Wednesday:

Washington, D.C. –“Plans announced by the Obama administration this week to reduce carbon pollution ignore recent scientific studies regarding the negative effects of natural gas development on climate change and popular scientific wisdom that calls into question the benefits of switching from coal to natural gas. Natural gas obtained from drilling and fracking is still a false solution to our nation’s energy challenges.

“Switching from coal to natural gas will not deliver the climate change benefits touted in the EPA’s new proposal. Methane is the main component of natural gas, and is leaking into the atmosphere at least twice the rate estimated by the EPA.

“Though methane degrades more quickly in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, pound-for-pound it is more efficient at trapping heat. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now estimates that a pound of methane traps 86 times as much heat as a pound of carbon dioxide, in the 20 years after being emitted, and 34 times as much heat as a pound of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame. These 20-year and 100-year methane global warming potentials (GWPs) are significantly larger than previous IPCC estimates, with the 20-year GWP reflecting about a 20 percent increase.

“The next few decades will be crucial to the future sustainability of our planet. First, there are tipping points beyond which natural positive feedbacks kick in, risking runaway climate change. Second, current climate science warns that in order to prevent warming from accelerating by two degrees Celsius, we must immediately transition off of all fossil fuels. Third, even a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius will lead to dangerous and costly consequences.

“A 2012 study found that methane leakage of more than four percent of total consumption means that burning natural gas instead of coal is worse for the climate in the next twenty years, and that leakage at about 7.6 percent makes it worse on a 100-year horizon. But this breakeven threshold for leakage was calculated using now dated estimates of methane’s effects on the climate. The breakeven threshold looking over 20 years is now closer to three percent leakage, and according to the latest science, more than three percent is leaking. A 2014 survey of literature on methane emissions determined that leakage is likely larger than 3.6 percent.

“Switching to natural gas will not cut greenhouse gas emissions for decades, a crucial timeframe for stopping global warming. Switching will lock in dangerous climate change, even assuming strong regulations and enforcement are put in place to address methane leakage. There is consensus in the climate science community that baseline, minimum-conceivable levels of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from extracting, transporting and burning natural gas are unacceptably high.

“Never mind that much of the coal displaced by natural gas is simply being exported and burned overseas. We must aggressively deploy proven technologies for clean and renewable resources, reorient the energy system around conservation and efficiency and leave the fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.”

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.