New Cornell Study Says Coal is Not Cleaner than Natural Gas

seriously flawedIn March 2011, Cornell professors Robert Howarth, Renee Santoro and Tony Ingraffea published a peer-reviewed study in the journal Climatic Change titled,  “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations” (see this MDN story). The study makes the claim that shale gas extraction is actually worse for the environment than burning coal because of greenhouse gases. Howarth et al’s conclusions were roundly refuted by both the U.S. Dept. of Energy (see this MDN story) and by a Carnegie Mellon University study (see this MDN story).

You can now add another group of Cornell professors to the list of those refuting the poor quality of the Howarth study. Cornell professors Lawrence M. Cathles, Larry Brown, and Andrew Hunter, along with Milton Taam (Electric Software, Inc.) have just published an article in the very same journal responding to the Howarth article. This new peer-reviewed article appears in the January 2012 issue of Climatic Change (a copy of the full article is embedded below).

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New Timeline for Shell Cracker Plant Announcement

MDN has extensively covered Shell’s plan to build a $1.5-$2.0 billion ethane cracker plant somewhere in the Marcellus region (see MDN’s previous coverage here). A cracker plant “cracks” ethane, a component of raw natural gas, into ethylene, a raw material used to manufacture plastics. West Virginia has been perhaps the most vocal and energetic of prospective locations in their efforts to attract Shell’s investment inside their borders. But Ohio and Pennsylvania are also making a serious effort to attract it as well.

Until now, the word was that Shell would likely make their announcement in mid- to late January. The timeline has apparently changed to be mid- to late February, according to West Virginia officials who remain jazzed about their possibilities in winning the cracker plant sweepstakes.

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Bill to Extend Fracking Moratorium until 2013 Hits NY Senate

As predicted yesterday (see this MDN story), NY State Sen. Greg Ball, a RINO from Putnam County, introduced legislation into the Senate yesterday that would extend the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York until June 1, 2013. Fortunately not many of his colleagues in the Republican-controlled Senate agree with him, making passage of the bill unlikely.

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PA Gov. Responds to PennFuture Criticism of Marcellus Bills

On Tuesday, the anti-drilling Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) released a report detailing the problems (from their perspective) with PA Senate Bill 1100 and PA House Bill 1950 which are nearing passage (a copy of the PennFuture report is embedded below). PennFuture’s CEO and president, Jan Jarrett, called on the legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett to throw out the existing bills and instead introduce new, stand alone bills to consider drilling issues separately.

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Drilling Deal Between Williams & Municipality in Western PA

The Latrobe Municipal Authority in Westmoreland County, PA (near Pittsburgh) is negotiating with Williams to lease 236 acres of municipal property for $2,500 per acre with 15 percent royalties on any gas produced. Latrobe is also talking with landowners who own adjacent property hoping they can pool enough land together to present Williams with 800-1,000 acres, including the right to drill on an eight-acre parcel owned by Latrobe located next to their wastewater treatment plant.

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