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Cornell Professor: Natural Gas Fracking a "Gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments"

1 minute read

For everyone out there who thinks that natural gas can be a "bridge fuel" to a clean energy future, we present this article by Anthony R. Ingraffea, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University, and president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy. Here are a few key points:

  1. "Fracked" natural gas is NOT clean, due in large part to methane leaks. The problem, in large part, is that "[m]ethane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide...one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide."
  2. We don't even know how bad this problem is. "But recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production, in the range my colleagues at Cornell and I predicted some years ago."
  3. Fracking wells leak contaminants into the air and water. As if methane weren't bad enough, "Gas and oil wells that lose their structural integrity also leak methane and other contaminants outside their casings and into the atmosphere and water wells. Multiple industry studies show that about 5 percent of all oil and gas wells leak immediately because of integrity issues, with increasing rates of leakage over time."

A better option? As the author points out, "We have renewable wind, water, solar and energy-efficiency technology options now." Even better, "We can scale these quickly and affordably, creating economic growth, jobs and a truly clean energy future to address climate change." Sounds like a good plan to us.