Environmentalists have charged for some time that the fracking boom — the rise in unconventional natural gas that is the key driver of all of this — has a dark underbelly. Natural gas’s principal component is methane, which is also a greenhouse gas. And if it gets to the atmosphere unburned, it has a much larger warming effect than carbon dioxide does, over a period of about 10 years.
Methane is Top Climate Problem
Scientific evidence is mounting that methane leakage from the natural gas industry — and from fracking in particular — is the top driver of climate change. The press release accompanying the UN’s Global Methane Assessment states that “cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change.” Duke University’s Dr. Drew Shindell, lead author of the UN assessment, said, “One thing the report calls for very strongly is not building any more of this fossil fuel infrastructure. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” Dr. Shindell has joined us in making the same argument to Gov. Roy Cooper, appealing to him to stop Duke Energy’s massive gas expansion. More info below and on our Duke Energy Gas Expansion page.
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In February, Duke Energy gave notice to the N.C. Utilities Commission that it planned to build a gas-fired power plant at the current Asheville coal power plant site. Four months later, the N.C. General Assembly approved, and Gov. Pat McCrory signed, the innocuous-sounding Mountain Energy Act, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), which essentially greased the skids for a short, 45-day decision on Duke’s request. The normal time for such a decision is about 180 days, which is much better, considering the controversial nature of this request.
Natural gas is considered a “bridge fuel” between fossil fuels and renewable energy, but experts warn that it can actually be worse than coal for the environment.
This interview features Dr. Robert Howarth of Cornell University, who will be joining NC WARN on March 29th for two special public events discussing the dangers of fracking and methane to our health and climate.
Startling increases in one of the main pollutants that cause global warming have been unexpectedly discovered over the United States – and the main suspect is the country’s booming fracking industry.
When Stephen Conley, an atmospheric scientist and pilot, saw an emissions indicator skyrocket in his Mooney TLS prop plane, he knew he had found a significant methane leak. His gas-detecting Picarro analyzer indicated he was flying through a plume of gas escaping at 900kg per hour. The colorless, odorless gas was enough to cover a football field to a height of 20 feet in a single day. But this flight wasn’t over the highly publicized Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles; Conley was circling the Bakken Shale, a rock formation in western North Dakota that has been aggressively pumped for oil and natural gas.
There was a huge global spike in one of the most potent greenhouse gases driving climate change over the last decade, and the U.S. may be the biggest culprit, according a new Harvard University study.
Today NC WARN and The Climate Times filed a legal motion and affidavits by three prominent technical experts urging state regulators to deny Duke Energy’s application to build a huge natural gas power plant in Asheville because it is not needed, would be high-risk economically, and would accelerate the global climate crisis at the worst possible time.
As Paris negotiators seek to avert irreversible global climate disruption, the nation’s largest carbon-polluting utility has been steaming full-speed backward with a climate- and economy-wrecking plan to greatly expand the burning and piping of fracked and conventional natural gas. Today NC WARN and The Climate Times openly pressed Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good to slow down, to weigh the evolving science and economics of natural gas, and to realize that she must share such critical decision-making with the people of North Carolina.
Read our October 2013 fact sheet on fracking.
Op-Ed by Anthony Ingraffea. Many concerned about climate change, including President Obama, have embraced hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. In his recent climate speech, the president went so far as to lump gas with renewables as “clean energy.” 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.