A research team from Cornell University finds that shale gas is better for the climate than coal, a conclusion that rebuts the earlier findings of other Cornell scientists.
During a Nov. 29 roundtable discussion with industry experts hosted by the American Clean Skies Foundation, Cornell's Lawrence Cathles III outlined the findings of a soon-to-be published study asserting that shale gas has a greenhouse gas footprint half or perhaps a third that of coal.
The Cathles study identified three errors in the widely cited study by Cornell's Robert Howarth, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea. Cathles and other researchers said Howarth's findings were "seriously flawed" because of erroneous methane leakage data, a too-short methane global warming potential and because it compared coal and gas in terms of heat rather than electricity generation.
Specifically, Cathles and others have criticized Howarth's assumption that up to 7.9 percent of methane produced from a shale gas well is vented into the atmosphere. "That's such a huge and valuable volume of gas. To say that is the norm ... just isn't plausible," Cathles said.
Carnegie Mellon University's Paulina Jaramillo with similar research that debunked the earlier study, echoed much of Cathles' assertions and elaborated on others. Jaramillo joined Cathles earlier in the day to brief lawmakers in the Natural Gas Caucus about their findings.