Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought

posted at 9:21 pm on April 29, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Most unwelcome news for the one-track-minded, fossil-fuels-must-die green lobby — and from their usually zealous allies at the EPA, no less — but pretty sweet news for anyone who actually cares about the environment and isn’t especially interested in scaremongering everybody into a big crunchy panic resulting in still more big government dictates that endorse economic slowdown as the solution to environmental problems.

One of the organized environmental movement’s biggest arguments against natural gas is that the release of methane, natural gas’s main component, into the air during the production and delivery process is an even more dangerous and potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Therefore, these so-called environmentalists claim that on natural gas production’s net evaluation, it is probably way worse for the planet and climate change than its advocates will admit.

Which is why natural-gas opponents aren’t going to be pleased with the EPA’s new report that includes a dramatic downward revision in their estimate of how much heat-trapping methane is released during gas production. Bazinga, via the AP:

The new EPA data is “kind of an earthquake” in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. “This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks.”

The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. …

The EPA revisions came even though natural gas production has grown by nearly 40 percent since 1990. The industry has boomed in recent years, thanks to a stunning expansion of drilling in previously untapped areas because of the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals to break apart rock and free the gas inside.

Experts on both sides of the debate say the leaks can be controlled by fixes such as better gaskets, maintenance and monitoring. …

Yes, the EPA is exceedingly fond of attributing any environmental improvements as the direct results of their policies and regulations, but let’s be real here and not overlook the overarching role of the free market in inspiring increased efficiency, innovation, and improved technology. In this case, producers are already plenty incentivized to keep trying to prevent leakages, since methane leaked into the atmosphere means waste and lost profits  — and as the AP mentions, industry experts think that there’s ample and imminent room for still further innovation and improvement.

Of course, that’s not enough for the self-anointed defenders of the atmospheric realm:

One leading environmentalist argued the EPA revisions don’t change the bigger picture.

“We need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel: coal, oil and also gas,” Bill McKibbern, the founder of 350.org, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Natural gas provides at best a kind of fad diet, where a dangerously overweight patient loses a few pounds and then their weight stabilizes; instead, we need at this point a crash diet, difficult to do” but needed to limit the damage from climate change.

Firstly, I would merely point out that seems like a poor analogy, since I’m pretty sure everybody knows that crash diets are not included in the makings of a long-term solution for weight loss; and secondly, good grief, these greens just don’t know how to take yes for an answer. Natural gas is the main factor responsible for our lately reduced carbon emissions, and yet their suggestions for a realistic energy policy seem to amount to “Solar, wind, and algae power OR BUST!” Not super helpful, guys.


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Fracking A!!!!

HumpBot Salvation on April 29, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Seconded!

Scrumpy on April 29, 2013 at 9:27 PM

“We need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel: coal, oil and also gas,” Bill McKibbern, the founder of 350.org, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

I want to know whether the electricity he used to write and send that email was generated by carbon-based fuels or not.

Is the founder of 350.org part of the solution, or part of the problem?

malclave on April 29, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Just a tip..
Don’t crawl out of your bedroom window and use the Natural Gas regulator as a stepping stool..

The sound of unleashed natural gas is deafening..

Electrongod on April 29, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Someone, pull my finger.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Liquid salt thorium reactors and natural gas. The reasonable solution for long term energy production and use.

By the way, there’s been no ‘warming’ for the last 15 years. This has been the second coolest Spring on record. We’re at the tail end of a ‘warming period’ that occurred, quite naturally, after the last mini ice age ended and the planet returned to a more ‘normal’ temperature pattern.

thatsafactjack on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

“We need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel: coal, oil and also gas,” Bill McKibbern, the founder of 350.org, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Mr. McKibbles typed out the email on his new laptop which was built using the latest in petroleum-derived plastics, chemical compounds, and electronic components which were produced in a modern factory.

Why can’t he use naturally derived computers like the Eskimos did, devices made of ice, wood, and vegetable fibers.

Bishop on April 29, 2013 at 9:36 PM

I reject the premise that theses ‘fuels’ come from fossilized remains.

Other than that, great work, Erika.

The “Green” movement has NEVER been about the environment, anyhow.
This may flush them out.

listens2glenn on April 29, 2013 at 9:37 PM

One leading environmentalist argued the EPA revisions don’t change the bigger picture.

Well certainly not! This charming little mutt has a clear vision of Zion firmly fixed in his sight and he’ll never let any facts or new information of any sort blur it’s image.
“I know the truth, damn it. Don’t bother me with the facts!!!”

Lew on April 29, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Someone, pull my finger.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

.
YANK !

listens2glenn on April 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Someone, pull my finger.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Not natural dood.

:-(

tom daschle concerned on April 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Not natural dood.

:-(

tom daschle concerned on April 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

We all have that crazy uncle at the family reunion..

Axe..I joke..
:)

Electrongod on April 29, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Methane Hydrate…the next fossil fuel. Billions of tons of the stuff…in our oceans…deep down.

coldwarrior on April 29, 2013 at 9:45 PM

‘YANK !‘

listens2glenn on April 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

lol — and it would be you, wouldn’t it. :)

The joke was supposed to be implied.

– but all right.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:47 PM

It is about time.

In Florida..we have a enormous Natural gas resources in the upper Panhandle/gulf. Years of NO. Even by the Right.

Tourism is #1 and anything that could harm our beaches is a no no.
But we have others drilling in the gulf and Cuba drilling right off Florida. One gets sick of this bullshite.

Florida is hurting real bad..I have been hoping things would change. More greenies from up north though and those voting Libby.

Our fishing ban on the east coast for red snapper and grouper-was won by Libs. Me and my dad throw back countless dead fish. Idiocy.
But I digress…

FL coming around?

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/florida-lawmakers-lay-groundwork-for-natural-gas-f/nWkTk/

bazil9 on April 29, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Someone, pull my finger.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

No but I will frack it. ;)

bazil9 on April 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM

No but I will frack it. ;)

bazil9 on April 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM

DOH! ba-da-bing. :)

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought

They wouldn’t care if it was the favorite food of their pet unicorns, reduced their grocery bills by 99%, and tucked them into bed at night, they would hate it because it comes from the earth, and oil companies and similar companies produce it.

Unless AlGore tells them that it is an approved substance, They would hate it even if they could get a nice high from sniffing it.

LegendHasIt on April 29, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Hot Gas, Baby!

Oh, yas.

locomotivebreath1901 on April 29, 2013 at 10:04 PM

bazil9 on April 29, 2013 at 9:54 PM
DOH! ba-da-bing. :)

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:57 PM

*symbol* ting!
LOL.
I am pumped up on salad.

bazil9 on April 29, 2013 at 10:05 PM

“We need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel: coal, oil and also gas,” Bill McKibbern, the founder of 350.org, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Okay Billy. You lead the way. Get naked and find a cave. We’ll get back to you.

GarandFan on April 29, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Methane Hydrate…the next fossil fuel. Billions of tons of the stuff…in our oceans…deep down.

coldwarrior on April 29, 2013 at 9:45 PM

This article from the Atlantic, by way of Ace, illustrates the panic the ignorant Left is in at the prospect of technology making ever increasing amounts of oil and gas available: What If We Never Run Out of Oil?

Pull quote (to illustrate our writer’s cluelessness and eco-religious mindset; emphasis mine):

A few years after I graduated from college, I drove with a friend to Southern California, a place I’d never been. I saw a little of Los Angeles, then went north and spent a few days bumbling through the San Joaquin Valley. Going about Bakersfield one night, I got hopelessly lost and ended up at a chain-link fence. Behind the fence were thousands of oil pumps, nodding up and down like so many giant plastic drinking birds. Enshrouding the pumps was a spiderweb of pipes and electrical wires, vast and complex beyond reason, lights and machinery stretching out across the desert farther than I could see. A giant, hypermodern petroleum operation barely 100 miles from Los Angeles! I couldn’t believe it. As I stood gawping, a policeman drove by. I asked him when this complex had sprung up. He looked at me like I was an idiot. “They’ve been drilling here since 1899,” he said.

(Yes, son, you *are* an idiot. But the article is illuminating despite our hero’s abject fear of a natural-gas rich world.)

And, as to this:

Someone, pull my finger.

Axe on April 29, 2013 at 9:31 PM

I can help you out here on your finger pulling quest, with a statistic I learned 11 years ago: eight years of continuous screaming will generate enough energy to warm a cup of coffee, but eight years of farting will generate enough energy to equal a small nuclear blast.

Pull away, my friend, pull away!!!

Wanderlust on April 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM

GarandFan on April 29, 2013 at 10:10 PM

I had the “pleasure” of listening to a old SF eco-queer at an energy conference in Perth a couple years ago, who berated the world over global warming climate change and admonished us to do without air conditioning, as he waxed oh so eloquently about his trips to Africa and Indonesia to visit tribal peoples – who he claimed lived a wonderful, simple, uncluttered life, close to the Earth and free of dependence on things that harmed the environment.

While he was talking, it was all I could do to keep my composure. I kept thinking about how he could leave that “simple” life at any time, he had easy access to first-world medical care at the push of a sat-phone button, and his visit to their “simple” life was uncluttered with an 18 hour/day pursuit of food, water, and shelter. I wanted to wring his neck lol.

On the anti air-conditioning thingy, of course he happened to live and work in one of the most temperate climates on the planet; he wouldn’t know what a 115°F day or a -40°F night was, unless someone rubbed his smug little puss in it.

Finally, he either ignored or refused to understand the utter hypocrisy of how his beliefs assmed that the “natives” would never want to choose to live a different life, one like the one he lived in (that is, where a person has instant access to clean water, abundant food, safe shelter, and first-rate medical care, all without having to spend all of his/her energies scraping together a meager existence every waking hour of the day), because it would never occur to him that they might actually want to make that choice for themselves.

GRRRR…

Wanderlust on April 29, 2013 at 10:28 PM

BTW aren’t carbon-based fuels “renewable” or has the Earth stopped making them?

PattyJ on April 29, 2013 at 10:32 PM

BTW aren’t carbon-based fuels “renewable” or has the Earth stopped making them?

PattyJ on April 29, 2013 at 10:32 PM

There is no reason to believe we will run out of petroleum, worldwide, at any time in the foreseeable future.

gryphon202 on April 29, 2013 at 10:38 PM

PattyJ on April 29, 2013 at 10:32 PM

It is a probability that the ocean floor has burped or oozed far more oil and natural gas than man has any possibility of ever recovering, or has ever recovered…and yes, fossil fuels are renewable…the process did not stop, nor is it limited to deposits of ancient dinosaur dung and prehistoric forests.

So long as the earth’s crust remains in motion (plate tectonics) organic sediments will encounter pressure and heat…the origin of oil and gas.

We may run low on easy-to-recover fossil fuels….but with newer technologies coming on line…we can probe the less-easy-to-recover sources.

If, and a big if, the greenies do not get in the way.

coldwarrior on April 29, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I think it is reasonable to assume that with technological improvements and developments we will eventually move away from fossil fuels because either 1) their use for power will no longer be necessary or 2) their use for plastics would become more valuable. Alternately, fossil fuels, like oil could eventually go back to being some gooey, sticky, smelly liquid whose presence on land allowed scammers to foist oil containing property on unsuspecting boobs…

We won’t get there if we cripple the world’s technological development in some deliberate effort to stop use of fossil fuels when it is not economical to do so.

Russ808 on April 29, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Well see… now we are heading toward global cooling. So any reduction in the gases that AGW says are heating the earth up are actually dooming us. So Natural gas is bad. Unless we tax it. Heavily. But windmills stir the air and warm us so we should still hemorrhage all our cash on that sink hole. – The Wind lobby.

MechanicalBill on April 29, 2013 at 11:31 PM

But..but..but..CAPITALIST PIGDOGS!!!

eleventy!!111!!!!!!111

BigWyo on April 29, 2013 at 11:43 PM

This is just another example of why capitalism is good for the environment and the various forms of socialism are bad. Capitalists are always on the look-out for ways to maximize their profits and one of the easiest ways to do this is to cut down on waste byproduct (less waste output means less input is needed for the same amount of goods products) plus if you can collect your waste and then figure out a way to sell it to someone, you’ve just turned what was formally waste into a profit making product (I.E., you’ve just increased your output, profits and effeciencies). Socialism on the other hand is all about meeting government goals. If the Supreme Soviet said to produce 1,000 pairs of shoes at your factory each year you produced baby shoes, if it said to produce 1,000 pounds of shoes you produced clown shoes. But whatever you produced it was the one and only measure of your success. How much waste product you dumped in your back lot was simply immaterial to you and everyone else of importance. In fact, anything you did with your waste product took some of your limited resources away from your main and only goal of increasing production and so was considered a positive evil.

So, of course, methane leakages are decreasing. That’s money being frittered away as far as stock-holders are concerned.

And, of course, the global warming crowd is not satisfied. AGW was never about science or the environment. It’s a religion. And believers are not swayed by mere facts.

Fred 2 on April 30, 2013 at 1:26 AM

I really need to dig out the research paper I did in college, the one that mentions how even if we stopped all carbon emissions today (and this is assuming global warming is caused by greenhouse gases), global warming will continue unabated for hundreds of years into the future. Because of all the carbon we’ve already emitted over the centuries. Which basically means cutting emissions now is pointless, so we might as well not bother.

Scopper on April 30, 2013 at 1:41 AM

Natural gas is the main factor responsible for our lately reduced carbon emissions, and yet their suggestions for a realistic energy policy seem to amount to “Solar, wind, and algae power OR BUST!”

Gosh, it’s almost as if all their complaints about carbon emissions are just a pretext for a vast agenda to take economic control out of the hands of producers and consumers and put it instead into the hands of the nomenklatura.

Fabozz on April 30, 2013 at 3:05 AM

But nuclear is even cleaner, safer, and doesn’t pollute and its tiny same sized “waste” can be recyled into even more fuel! No wonder the fossil fuel industry is trying to bury nuclear!
Thanks atomicinsights.com

jamesgreenidge on April 30, 2013 at 3:43 AM

Sad news for green lobby: Natural gas is even cleaner than we thought.

Sad news for human beings, liberals are even more stupid than we thought.

Mojave Mark on April 30, 2013 at 6:37 AM

Gosh, it’s almost as if all their complaints about carbon emissions are just a pretext for a vast agenda to take economic control out of the hands of producers and consumers and put it instead into the hands of the nomenklatura.

Fabozz on April 30, 2013 at 3:05 AM

Pretty much. Most of the left’s “causes” are just clubs to beat Republicans with. They are leftists first and environmentalist, anti-war, anti-sexist, whatever a very distant second. Once in a great while you get someone like Glenn Greenwald who seems to really believe in these causes, but people like him are very few and very far between.

Doomberg on April 30, 2013 at 7:10 AM

Which is why natural-gas opponents aren’t going to be pleased with the EPA’s new report

That’s easy enough to fix. Rewrite the report.

How careless of EPA to release it in the first place. EPA reports must advance the narrative.

EPA study cites report from admitted data fakers

petefrt on April 30, 2013 at 8:55 AM

The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall.

Notice that the tighter “pollution” controls were instituted by the industry–which is in the business of capturing and selling methane to burn it, not release it into the air, so the industry has every incentive to prevent leaks!!!

Also, recent measurements have shown that while CO2 concentrations in the air continue to rise, methane concentrations have stabilized in recent years at about 1.7 ppm, meaning that any input from either man-made or natural methane emissions (swamps, stagnant water, etc.) is balanced by methane losses FROM the atmosphere.

Where is the methane going? It’s probably escaping out into space. At a given temperature, the velocity of gas molecules is inversely proportional to the square root of molecular weight. Methane has a molecular weight of 16, as compared to 28 for nitrogen, 32 for oxygen, and 44 for carbon dioxide. So methane molecules move faster than other gas molecules, migrate upward in the atmosphere, and eventually escape Earth’s gravity, while other gas molecules are slower and cannot escape Earth’s gravity.

Although methane absorbs about 20 times more infrared radiation than CO2 at the same concentration, the methane currently in the atmosphere is equivalent to about 34 ppm of CO2, but current CO2 concentrations are around 390 ppm, so that the net heat-trapping effect of methane is less than 1/10 that of CO2, which is itself much less than the heat-trapping effect of water vapor, which will always be in the atmosphere, since 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.

Steve Z on April 30, 2013 at 10:06 AM

“Solar, wind, and algae power OR BUST!”

We choose ‘Bust’.
~Department of Energy Loan Officers

Dexter_Alarius on April 30, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Why can’t he use naturally derived computers like the Eskimos did, devices made of ice, wood, and vegetable fibers.

Bishop on April 29, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Don’t forget hemp! You can make anything with that and smoke what you don’t use.

Odysseus on April 30, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Yes, of course, carbon based fuels are renewable!!

This whole anti-oil campaign shows the degradation of science by politics.

PattyJ on April 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM

‘Crash Diet’ in this conversation, would be an economic collapse severe enough to result in disruptions of power distribution.

That’s what Bill McKibbern is hoping for.

hawksruleva on April 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM

OK what are the byproducts of burning natural gas?
CO2 … bad … EPA says it is a pollutant.
(But it is FOOD for vegetation … otherwise known as plants)
But plants are green and green is good, right?
But plants make carbohydrates … I think they make you fat.
And Dihydrogenoxide … Ooooohh NO!
Google – Dihydrogenoxide to see how deadly THAT is.
Di-Hydrogen Oxide a.k.a H2O … known by the common name Water.
You can drown in water. Therefore it is Dangerous and we shouldn’t be creating any more water.

Missilengr on April 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM

The goal of the “enviro lobby”
Destroy America’s economy and therefore America.

Hard Right on April 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM