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2018-06-21. Natural gas could warm the planet as much as coal in the short term.

posted Jun 24, 2018, 5:57 AM by Alan Gould
By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. For GSS Climate Change chapter 3, Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: Natural gas, long promoted as a “clean” alternative to other fossil fuels, may not be so clean after all. That’s because its main ingredient, the potent greenhouse gas methane, has been leaking from oil and gas facilities at far higher rates than governmental regulators claim. A new study finds that in the United States, such leaks have nearly doubled the climate impact of natural gas, causing warming on par with carbon dioxide (CO2)-emitting coal plants for 2 decades. (Methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2 does, but while it does, its warming effect is much stronger.) The study underscores how the benefits of natural gas, which emits less CO2 than coal when burned, are being undermined by the leaks, says Steve Hamburg, a main author of the study and the chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a New York City–based environmental group. “You’re taking a hit, and it’s an unnecessary hit,” he says. The analysis also suggests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is presenting too rosy of a picture of natural gas emissions, understating industry methane leaks by approximately 60%.... http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/natural-gas-could-warm-planet-much-coal-short-term [See also https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/climate/methane-leaks.html]