This is a rebuttal to the Jan. 17 Perspectives piece. Some important facts are conveniently left out when shale gas advocates try to pitch its artificial climate benefits. Fracked gas is devastating to the climate, especially in the next two most critical decades. Methane (read: shale gas) is 72 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. We could make substantial progress on climate change if we focused on reducing methane. The gas industry is the largest human-made source globally.
The climate change footprint of shale gas is at least 20 percent greater and potentially twice as great as coal over 20 years. Recent data collected by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers found that 9 percent of the gas produced in Utah gas fields leak to the atmosphere. This number is double industry estimates and negates the touted climate benefits of shale gas.
When talking climate, the real discussion should not be about coal versus shale gas -- it's a false comparison. Both are dirty fossil fuels that heat up our planet and harm public health. Research from the University of Delaware predicts that renewable energy can constantly provide 99.9 percent of a large electric grid's needs by 2030. To curb the effects of climate change, we need to prioritize and expedite clean renewable energy now, not rely on a bridge to nowhere.
The writer is community outreach director for the Clean Air Council.