environment

Natural gas – unclean energy

Today’s BC Liberal Speech from the Throne claimed natural gas is “the world’s cleanest-burning fossil fuel.”

Of course, that’s a bit like saying the electric Tesla Model S is the world’s least expensive car to operate. The statement requires ignoring $100,000+ costs incurred before one climbs into the driver’s seat. It’s the same with natural gas, and particularly gas that’s been produced by intensive fracking and been liquefied, transported, regasified and distributed to consumers in far-off lands.

Scientists at Cornell University have been arguing that greenhouse gas emissions are higher from using natural gas to produce electricity than from using coal. According to Forbes Magazine, recent measurements by scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration support the Cornell assertions.

Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations, Howarth, Santoro, Ingraffea, 2012:

We evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing from shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well. These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas.

The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured — as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids — and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon.

The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years…

In Fugitive Methane Caught in the Act of Raising GHG, Forbes Magazine describes the occurrence of gas leaks during production:

Escape of these fugitives is especially large for shale gas as it requires high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking forces large volumes of water under pressure into the shale to fracture and re-fracture the rock to increase gas flow. A large amount of this water returns to the surface as flow-back within the first weeks after injection, bringing back large quantities of methane.

These losses can be decreased if new technologies are used and if regulations are strengthened… Such improvements have resulted in lower emissions from gas production in Colorado versus those in Utah, but these methods are not yet being broadly implemented…

In British Columbia, the Clark Government views resource companies as prime clients so they impose few financial or technical burdens and the gas industry operates under a scheme of virtual self-regulation, which may be a way of saying no-regulation. There is almost no independent examination of methane leaks in BC gas fields. Premier Clark has no idea of whether the natural gas industry is clean or not; it’s merely a talking point to justify what their financials supporters demand.

Notes:

Scientist David Hughes debunks myths about energy, The Squamish Chief, February 10, 2016:

I would look at what is left of our gas as being a strategic, long-term resource and I would not recommend growing production so we can liquidate it at bargain-basement prices now, because it is going to be valuable later…

More evidence of ineffective regulation, from highly regarded journalist Mike De Souza, writing for National Observer: Pipeline cops go soft on Enbridge in property damage fiasco:

The NEB actually compromises landowner rights. It compromises the environment and safety…

Categories: environment, LNG, NEB

11 replies »

  1. Every time I update the links in my post to the BC Government Engage LNG in BC the GCPC turn around and kill the link. I've even gone so far to use The WayBack Machine and now those links are left with a code of 404 no such file found.

    http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/files/2013/11/LNG101.pdf

    http://blogborgcollective.blogspot.ca/2014/04/premier-christy-clark-is-insane-when.html

    If LNG is Oh So Clean why are their own documents being scrubbed of the Internet.

    Come on Christy, are you as squeaky Clean as LNG, or ….

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  2. Yes, the BC Liberals are “scrubbing ” the internet, of any of their “propaganda” that does not “fit” the upcoming election, “forces of Yes”, material. It would seem that party resources are being used to “ensure” that the past rhetoric does not come back and haunt Christy and the party, during what will be an interesting campaign of “denial, “back tracking” and “bad timing.”
    The “spin doctors”, will be working overtime, to ensure that “the message is clear”, that BC Liberal policies and agenda are what this province needs, and that Christy and Co., are the only ones that can deliver.
    The “stakes” are higher this time…much higher. With all the scandals and bad press, one would hope any opposition, would have a game plan to counter the worst governance in BC history.

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  3. We do! To what avail? We also insist that Site C be abandoned. We insist that LNG be postponed until economically viable. Lets face it! We are a bunch of toothless wimps. Our protestations are but whispers in the wind. Chrispy Clark has her own agenda and it doesn't include citizens!

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  4. Once again I applaud the likes of Norm, NVG, Lew and many of the regulars here including you John. Your last two sentences are so on the money.

    Christy is in full campaign mode with her forces of yes. Won't be long before she is telling us how the NDP doesn't want anything built; not anything! I have to cite Rafe here because he too is on the mark with his latest column, including his current assessment of Mr. Horgan.
    http://commonsensecanadian.ca/rafe-old-left-vs-right-divide-no-longer-applies-environment/
    Hawgwash.

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  5. I am aware that CC's main job is retail campaigning 24/7 and everyday in everyway BUT it seems the full bore 2017 main event is now under way even moreso… CHBC news, a half hour broadcast from Kelowna on Global network, ran no less than three WorkBC ads tonight, are these also running in Vancouver news broadcasts 15 months before the election?

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  6. Apparently, during Question Period in the Spring of 2013, before the Election was 'called' The Then Minister responsible for 'Communication', and subsequently was given the Health Ministry on short notice, who FIRED the Health Researchers, Rose to answer a question from the Opposition on advertising, espousing the virtues of Voting Yes to the BC Liberals and No to the BC NDP. McDiarmid's answer: If the same message, the same advertising is tailored to each Riding in the whole of the province, then its permitted under the guidelines. Was the WorkBC ads at work in the same time frame throughout the province? How much was paid for those Advertisements? Is the contract for one year with monthly updates? Spend the money, its in the budget?

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