Shale Gas: Not Clean, Either?

Not only are there serious questions about just how abundant natural gas from shale plays is, it now turns out that this “Cheap, Clean, Abundant, and Domestic” resource may turn out to only be domestic.

In a draft paper, Cornell researcher Robert Howarth calculates that, when methane leakage from hydraulic fracturing is included, along with secondary contributions from forest clearance and water transport are included, the carbon footprint of shale gas is slightly worse than coal’s.

Source: Robert W Howarth, Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing

via Peak Oil Review


  1. D_Lane said

    I appreciate this news, especially the Reuters link. I did not hear this story elsewhere.

  2. Ray Marshall said

    Hi Tom,

    I would be interested in your opinion of the Solar Hosting Farm concept. An article on this concept was published on by UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Ecology Law Currents on August 12, 2009. Article may be found at this link –

  3. Steve said

    That is the first negative article I have seen about natural gas from shale. I was under the impression that this source of natural gas was going to provide us with a great source of energy.

  4. Tom said

    Like most things, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. I think Howarth is probably overstating the “dirty” case, although it’s probably not as good as the drillers would like us to believe, either. I’m more worried that there simply is not as nearly much of it that can be extracted at reasonable prices as we’ve been led to believe.

    But it’s still valuable. Even if it is not Clean, Abundant, or Cheap, it is Domestic, and gas is a lot better than coal for backing up wind (which is clean, abundant, domestic, and cheap.)

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