Researchers at the University of Maryland published a study that attempts to ascertain the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of extracting shale natural gas through fracturing compared to the GHG emissions associated with burning conventional gas or by burning coal. The researchers conclude that for electricity generation, the GHG impacts of shale gas are 11 percent higher than those of conventional gas, and only 56 percent that of coal for standard assumptions. This study arrived at different results than one released in early September (see September 9, 2011, Washington Update) that concluded that switching from using coal to natural gas would fail to significantly slow the rate of climate change; this study included the cooling effects of sulfur particles associated with coal burning and the complex climatic influences of methane, which affects other atmospheric gases such as ozone and water vapor.
[For further information: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044008]
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