Monday, April 11, 2011

Natural Gas is Dirty, Cornell Has the Data!

In February of this year Steven Hayward warned us that the Green's would double cross natural gas and he was right. According to the "Hayward's First Law of Green Thermodynamics", "There is no source of energy, no matter how clean, that the left-environmentalists won't oppose if it becomes practical to scale up." The man is evidently prescient as he saw this coming more three months ago. As an example, take Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr., now Chairman of Otsego 2000, a group of useful and vocal idiots opposing any and all drilling of natural gas in upstate New York.

In 2007 he penned an editorial for the New York Times titled appropriately, Idiot Wind. In it he makes the argument, not that wind power isn't clean, but that it is too cumbersome, inefficient. Too much of a stain on the natural beauty of things to go into full scale production. He wonders aloud if imposing moratoriums on wind farm development might be an appropriate antecedent prior to eliminating the practice altogether. He bemoans the need to include environmental factors, including visual impacts, the effects of wind turbines on noise pollution and the tragic death and dismemberment of bats and birds. That wind power is too "iffy" a resource for him and his ilk to sacrifice for such a their expensive view for energy independence. Never mind, that "Wind provides 35% of all new generation since 2005", or that the Pennsylvania game commission documents low bird and bat impact for PA wind energy.

He closes his treatise with this improbable plea:
Wind has a role to play, but perhaps not as strong a one as other clean energy sources, especially those like safer nuclear energy and cleaner coal, which provide not erratic but constant energy. We need to think carefully about where we place wind farms and whether the benefits outweigh the losses. But more important, we can’t let wind power, and projects like the Jordanville one, distract our attention and financial resources from better solutions for saving our planet. Wind may be something of a red herring hidden inside a pork barrel.
Safer nuclear energy and cleaner coal? I would like to hear his thoughts on this now, a mere three years later. Of course, I don't need to ask, I know the answer. Otsego 2000 is a vocal opponent to natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation. Natural gas was always considered a clean burning fuel. That is until it became practical for large scale development. In February, Steven Hayward warned that the Green lobby would turn on natural gas and he was absolutely correct.

I have followed the debate and propaganda regarding Marcellus shale development closely over the past few months and it is no surprise that a "study" from Cornell University was released today purporting that natural gas development is more harmful to the environment than oil and coal. The Hill published an article this morning titled, "Study: Gas from 'fracking' worse than coal on climate." Since then, a press release has been issued, stating that "Methane Leaks Can Make 'Dirtier' Than Coal and Oil".

As environmental groups mobilize to ban natural gas production in New York look for this to be argument du jour. It will be like the arguments presented in the New York Times by Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr regarding wind energy. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Already there is push back regarding the validity of these results and they come from the authors of the study. I refer you to Energy In Depth, an invaluable and honest resource to anyone interested in the this issue. The Cornell has yet to be issued, yet is generating lots of press, here and here. Which is why some perspective must be vigorously presented and vociferously defended.

  • The Methane made me do it: The Studies conclusions rely almost entirely on the application of a Global Warming Potential (GWP) that is almost 45% higher for natural gas than the one cited by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007
  • Faulty data leads to faulty analysis and even the study's authors admit their data is "lousy"
  • Lost and Unaccounted for Gas (LUG) relies on non peer reviewed Texas trade magazine that is no longer in circulation
  • The author's estimates on pipeline leakage relies on data and assumptions that are completely irrelevant to the Marcellus shale
  • Politics and science don't mix, but I repeat myself
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