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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back and Forth Over New Methane Study Continues

We mentioned a new study earlier this week which contained many interesting findings from a study of methane emissions at 150 drilling sites.  Here is the original post, to give you the background.

To gain even more insight into the study, click here.  This is an essential resource in increasing understanding of the study, as it contains the FAQ posted by the Environmental Defense Fund.

Now, more reaction continues to pour out from various outlets.

From Forbes:
First, the researchers did find significant leakage, but at other points than the wells, most notably in the gas-water separation process.  This highlights the fact that methane leakage is important and needs to be addressed, but independently of the question of hydraulic fracturing.  The natural gas supply chain is long and some parts of it, such as urban distribution systems, are thought to be possible sources of significant leakage.  In all likelihood, the Power Law applies, wherein most leakage comes from a small portion of sources.
Next , many correctly have pointed out that the study is somewhat limited, as the authors admit, covering only a small number of wells owned by companies that volunteered to be part of the research.  This is a valid point, although usually overlooked by fracking critics when applied to studies whose results they prefer.  But it only means that, as with any study, the results are not necessarily universally applicable.
And following on from this is the bias in some analysts who, first of all, dismiss the results out of hand and attack the involvement of some producing companies as invalidating any findings, but more generally show a refusal to accept any results they dislike.  Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy dismisses the study as “fatally flawed” in part because it contradicts other findings.   This is not the stance of scientists, but ideologues.   Indeed, Philip Radford of Greenpeace primarily rants against the industry and methane.  He, too, attacks the findings for disagreeing with a recent NOAA study that found much higher levels in a field in Utah, but doesn’t note that the measurements were done on a single day, which would also seem to be limiting.
You can read the rest of that article here.

Forbes has more to say about the comparison between this new study and the famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) 2011 Cornell report on methane emissions in another article, which you can view here.

Anti-drilling site DeSmogBlog had this to say:
Alongside releasing its controversial findings on fugitive methane emissionscaused by hydraulic fracturing ("fracking")on September 16, University of Texas-Austin also unveiled an industry-stacked Steering Committee roster for the study it conducted in concert with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Stacked with former and current oil industry lobbyists, policy professionals and business executives, the Steering Committee is proof positive of the conflicts of interest evident in the roster of people and funding behind the "frackademia" study.
Only two out of the 11 members of the Steering Committee besides lead author and UT-Austin Professor David Allen have a science background relevant to onshore fracking. 
That study found fugitive methane emissions at the well pad to be 2%-4% lower than discovered by the non-industry funded groundbreaking April 2011 Cornell University study co-authored by Anthony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth.
Read that whole article here. 

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