A new peer-reviewed study from Carnegie Mellon University says that Marcellus gas has less impact on global warming than coal. The study, published in the Institute of Physics Aug. 5th issue of “Environmental Research Letters” is a direct refutation of the Cornell study released in April by professors Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea. The Cornell study was based on sketchy data (admitted to by Howarth & Ingraffea), and pure guesswork. It made the claim that shale gas was worse for global warming and the environment than burning coal.
The Carnegie study finds that burning natural gas is 20-50 percent cleaner than burning coal when producing electricity—a conclusion most people know instinctively. It’s only by doing extreme mental gymnastics that you can say burning gas is worse for the environment than burning coal.
Turns out that horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the process used to get natural gas from shale layers, is also a renaissance for oil production as well. According to the latest figures, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. has just surpassed the number of rigs drilling for natural gas—for the first time in 18 years—thanks to fracking.
Yet another opinion poll of New York State residents on the issue of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus (and Utica) Shale. This is the third statewide poll in a month. Like the two polls before it, this one found those those who support drilling, and those who oppose it, are just about evenly split. This most recent poll was done by Marist College and of the three polls, the questions in this one are the most flawed. It’s more like a push-poll—a poll that seeks to push a political message—rather than a poll which seeks to understand public opinion. The exact wording of the four questions asked are listed below, along with MDN commentary. The entire detailed breakout of how various groups responded to each question is embedded at the bottom.
This is a cautionary story. You know that MDN is pro- but safe drilling. You may also know that MDN does not think, in general, that pipeline companies should be granted status as public utilities with the right of eminent domain—the right to condemn and take land for its own use in constructing a pipeline. But pipelines are a complex issue. Should large, interstate pipelines be granted public utility status? Perhaps. They are similar to large electric lines running through a state. But what about smaller, gathering pipelines? Should they have the right to cross any property they want? MDN says no.
It now looks like West Virginia lawmakers will not adopt new regulations for drilling in the Marcellus Shale this year. In July, acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed an executive order creating “temporary” new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations, which have not yet gone into effect (see this MDN story). The new regs are intended to be in place for up to 15 months to give the legislature time to draft a comprehensive overhaul of drilling rules. There was talk of speeding the process along and taking advantage of the current special session of the legislature, meeting this week to rework a redistricting plan, to tackle the drilling issue. But any more work on new drilling regulations for this year is now all but dead: