Natural gas obtained from shale differs little in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to natural gas obtained through more conventional means, a new study reports.
"There is currently a national debate over life cycle GHG emissions from shale natural gas," National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Senior Scientist Garvin Heath said. "We address it by conducting one of the first independent 'bottoms up assessments' in this field."
The study was piped through the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, a consortium of five universities and the U.S. Department of Energy's NREL. According to NREL, prior results on the topic relied on myriad assumptions and often varied widely from each other. But the study more reliably shows that natural gas obtained from shale is very similar in lifecycle GHG emissions compared to other natural gas, while still emitting less than half of those from coal-fired electricity generation.
While that could be good news for many state producers tapping shale gas, according to the report Wyoming may have other things to worry about.
"The methods that states use to track and report violations and enforcement actions also differ substantially," the report stated, praising Pennsylvania's efforts to make violations and enforcement public record available online. "Other states, notably Colorado and Wyoming, have been criticized for a lack of transparency and limited public access to such information."
That transparency is important, according to those conducting the study.
"More transparency regarding industry and regulatory practices as well as better information sharing across jurisdictions will help to foster a fact-based discussion regarding how and at what level the industry should be regulated," said William Boyd, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School, who led the legal and regulatory team for the study.
Other results from the study found that low natural gas prices
, long a bane to Wyoming government
dependent on natural gas for revenue, led to more than 300 million megawatt-hours of fuel switching from coal to gas in the U.S. power sector between 2008 and 2012. But the results are tenuous and could quickly shift into reverse if natural gas prices rise relative to coal.
"We found that the potential evolution of the U.S. power sector will depend on policy, natural gas and other fuel prices and technology innovation," NREL Senior Analyst and lead author Jeff Logan said. "In longer-term scenarios, natural gas can complement other power generation resources such as renewables or carbon capture and storage, and help support a more sustainable power sector."The full 255-page study can be found here.
For more Daily news click here and look under 'Breaking News'