To the Editor, The big news out of the U.S. Energy Information Administration earlier this month was that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions decreased during the warmest winter on record. Shocking. While the report acknowledges that record warmth contributed to the decrease, as did reduced gasoline demand, it suggests that increased use of natural gas played a role. Of course, the most irresponsible headlines that followed referred only to natural gas.
The report says that the emissions are the lowest in 20 years. Anyone who actually looked at the report could see that emissions from natural gas have actually increased over that same 20 year period. Additionally, what the 3-page report does not make clear is that the figures are based on consumption, not production. It has been well-documented by scholars at Cornell and Duke Universities and elsewhere that the process of extracting natural gas from shale causes methane to migrate into the atmosphere, making natural gas just as dirty as coal and oil. Methane, by the way, is a more efficient greenhouse gas than CO2, exacerbating the problem of climate change. No cause for optimism.
The signers of this letter are leaders in environmental, renewable energy, and sustainability organizations across Berks County and the Lehigh Valley who have formed a coalition to raise public awareness of the facts about climate change.
Respectfully, Karen Feridun Bruce Foote
Sheila Gallagher Cathy Kimock Eron Lloyd
Annie Prince Patti Rose Shana Rose
Sources: Geochemical evidence for possible natural migration of Marcellus Formation brine to shallow aquifers in Pennsylvania, Duke's Warren, Jackson, Darrah, Osborn, Down, Zhao, White, and Vengosh examine pathways for fugitive gas to contaminate shallow aquifers.
Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale to Aquifers, Geologist Tom Myers' peer-reviewed paper in Ground Water that discusses results of computer modeling to determine that methane can migrate into the aquifer in as few as three years. Note: Full study is available for a fee the Wiley Online Library.
Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing, Duke's Osborn, Vengosh, Warner, and Jackson examine methane levels in water sources in proximity of drilling.
Methane and Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations: A letter, Cornell's Howarth, Santoro, and Ingraffea compare the footprint of natural gas in relation to those of oil and coal.