Greenwashing gas: Might a ‘transition fuel’ label legitimize carbon-intensive natural gas development?
30 Apr 2012
Eleanor Stephensona, Alexander Doukasa, Karena Shaw
This paper develops a case study of the shale gas industry in British Columbia (BC), Canada to evaluate the assumption that natural gas is a "bridge" fuel.
Hydrocarbon emissions characterization in the Colorado Front Range: A pilot study
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
21 Feb 2012
Gabrielle Pétron, Gregory Frost, Benjamin R. Miller, Adam I. Hirsch,
Stephen A. Montzka, Anna Karion, Michael Trainer, Colm Sweeney,
Arlyn E. Andrews, Lloyd Miller, Jonathan Kofler, Amnon Bar-Ilan,
Ed J. Dlugokencky, Laura Patrick, Charles T. Moore Jr., T
The multispecies analysis of daily air samples collected at the NOAA Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in Weld County in northeastern Colorado since 2007 shows highly correlated alkane enhancements caused by a regionally distributed mix of sources in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. To further characterize the emissions of methane and non-methane hydrocarbons (propane, n-butane, i-pentane, n-pentane and benzene) around BAO, a pilot study involving automobile-based surveys was carried out during the summer of 2008.
Greenhouse gases, climate change and the transition from coal to low-carbon electricity
Environmental Research Letters
16 Feb 2012
Myhrvold NP and Caldeira K
A transition from the global system of coal-based electricity generation to low-greenhouse-gas-emission energy technologies is required to mitigate climate change in the long term. The use of current infrastructure to build this new low-emission system necessitates additional emissions of greenhouse gases, and the coal-based infrastructure will continue to emit substantial amounts of greenhouse gases as it is phased out. Furthermore, ocean thermal inertia delays the climate benefits of emissions reductions. By constructing a quantitative model of energy system transitions that includes life-cycle emissions and the central physics of greenhouse warming, we estimate the global warming expected to occur as a result of build-outs of new energy technologies ranging from 100 GWe to 10 TWe in size and 1–100 yr in duration. We show that rapid deployment of low-emission energy systems can do little to diminish the climate impacts in the first half of this century. Conservation, wind, solar, nuclear power, and possibly carbon capture and storage appear to be able to achieve substantial climate benefits in the second half of this century; however, natural gas cannot.
Venting and leaking of methane from shale gas development: response to Cathles et al.
10 Jan 2012
Howarth RW, Santoro R, Ingraffea A
Response to criticisms by Cathles et al. of first peer-reviewed analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shale gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing.
Should Fracking Stop? Extracting gas from shale increases the availability of this resource, but the health and environmental risks may be too high.
Robert W. Howarth, Anthony Ingraffea & Terry Engelder
Point and counterpoint commentary provided by Howarth, Ingraffea, & Engelder on natural gas extraction of shale formations in Nature.
Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations
Climatic Change Letters
14 Apr 2011 (04/14/2011)
Howarth RW, Santoro R, Ingraffea A.
Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions
Drew T. Shindell, Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch, Gavin A. Schmidt, Nadine Unger and Susanne E. Bauer
Evaluating multicomponent climate change mitigation strategies requires knowledge of the diverse direct and indirect effects of emissions. Methane, ozone, and aerosols are linked through atmospheric chemistry so that emissions of a single pollutant can affect several species. We calculated atmospheric composition changes, historical radiative forcing, and forcing per unit of emission due to aerosol and tropospheric ozone precursor emissions in a coupled composition-climate model. We found that gas-aerosol interactions substantially alter the relative importance of the various emissions. In particular, methane emissions have a larger impact than that used in current carbon-trading schemes or in the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, assessments of multigas mitigation policies, as well as any separate efforts to mitigate warming from short-lived pollutants, should include gas-aerosol interactions.
Extensive regional atmospheric hydrocarbon pollution in the southwestern United States
Aaron S. Katzenstein, Lambert A. Doezema, Isobel J. Simpson, Donald R. Blake, and F. Sherwood Rowland
Light alkane hydrocarbons are present in major quantities in the near-surface atmosphere of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas during both autumn and spring seasons. In spring 2002, maximum mixing ratios of ethane [34 parts per 109 by volume (ppbv)], propane (20 ppbv), and n-butane (13 ppbv) were observed in north-central Texas. The elevated alkane mixing ratios are attributed to emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. Measured alkyl nitrate mixing ratios were comparable to urban smog values, indicating active photochemistry in the presence of nitrogen oxides, and therefore with abundant formation of tropospheric ozone. We estimate that 4–6 teragrams of methane are released annually within the region and represents a significant fraction of the estimated total U.S. emissions. This result suggests that total U.S. natural gas emissions may have been underestimated. Annual ethane emissions from the study region are estimated to be 0.3–0.5 teragrams.