Cornell University Professor Anthony Ingraffea has consistently argued that natural gas from high-volume hydraulic fracturing is not as clean as its supporters make it out to be.
This week, an editorial
by Ingraffea ran in the New York Times and it's worth a read (if the Times paywall blocks you, just Google "Gangplank to a Warm Future" and follow the link). In it, Ingraffea responds to President Barack Obama's recent climate speech, where the president characterized natural gas as a clean fuel. Ingraffea writes:
As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments.
Ingraffea co-authored a study, released last year, that concluded that methane leaks from gas wells may negate any greenhouse gas emissions benefits realized from burning natural gas instead of coal for power. His NYT editorial touches on many of the arguments in that study.
In his editorial, Ingraffea says that politicians and the government would be better off backing energy efficiency projects and renewable energy technology like solar, hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal. Those technologies can be scaled quickly and affordably, he writes.