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Harvard Study Blows Apart Obama’s Case for Natural Gas

Huffington Post December 10, 2013

by Daniel Kessler

Democrats like to label the GOP the “anti-science party” – but, well, you know what they say about people who live in glass houses. In his last two State of the Union addresses, President Obama gave natural gas his full throated endorsement, and his party has followed suit. Now, a new study from researchers at Harvard has found that methane concentrations in the atmosphere are higher than thought. Obama’s embrace of natural gas, it now appears, is actually an anti-science position that the president must reverse if he is serious about tackling the climate crisis. The president’s “all of the above” energy strategy has been revealed for what it is: A naked attempt to please everyone (except the physics and chemistry of the planet) and a failed attempt to create a shield against the GOP’s claims that Obama is against the exploitation of fossil fuels.

The Harvard study, “Anthropogenic Emissions of Methane in the United States,” found that greenhouse gas emissions from “fossil fuel extraction and processing (i.e., oil and/or natural gas) are likely a factor of two or greater than cited in existing studies.” In regards to methane, and this is key, the researchers found that “fossil fuel extraction and processing could be 4.9 +/- 2.6 times larger than in EDGAR, the most comprehensive global methane inventory.”

The great promise of gas was that it could replace coal and reduce GHG emissions, but only if methane didn’t leak into the atmosphere during drilling or transport, and only if natural gas didn’t crowd out renewable energy development. We’ve long known that gas is only better than coal if it leaks at a rate of less than 2.7 times during production. The study makes it clear that gas wells are leaking at least that much.

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