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Gas at a glance

April 12, 2011

New study: hydraulic fracturing ‘worse than coal on climate’

Cornell University professors are set to publish new research that concludes natural gas produced by “hydraulic fracturing” contributes to global warming as much as coal, or even more, according to The Hill, a Washington DC news outlet. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production. “Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years,” states the study. It further concludes that shale gas developed through fracking carries a higher greenhouse gas footprint because the “fugitive” methane emissions at the fracking sites are greater than releases from conventional gas wells. The study calls into question the value of seeing natural gas as a bridge fuel while alternative energy sources are being developed. It is slated to run in the journal Climatic Change.

Conference to focus on public health and environment

The Earth Institute, Columbia University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency present “The Path to a Sustainable Future: Public Health and the Environment,” a free day-long conference. Speakers include Judith A. Enck, Region 2, EPA; Joe Martens, Commissioner, NY DEC; Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, author; Joseph Heath, General Counsel, Onondaga Nation; and John Holko, President, Lenape Resources, Inc. The closing session will focus on hydraulic fracturing.The conference is free and open to all. It will be held on April 15, from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Low Memorial Library, The Rotunda. Register at http://calendar.columbia.edu/sundial/webapi/get.php?vt=detail&id=standal... or contact events@ei.columbia.edu for more information.