The carbon life cycle wars continue with the formal publication of another paper debunking the work of Professors Howarth and Ingrafea. This time the stinging rebuke comes from a colleague at Cornell University.
"Replacing coal with natural gas cuts the creation of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, a Cornell University researcher has concluded, rebutting the findings of colleagues at the university" reports Business Week about Cornell Professor Cathles' paper. www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-10/cornell-researcher-rebuts-colleagues-on-fracking-leaks.
The paper was published in the journal Geochemsitry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Cathles is a professor in the Cornell Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Other researchers, including from Carnegie Mellon University and Worldwatch Institute, have published studies that reach conclusions similar to Professor Cathles, finding that gas emits about 50% less heat trapping pollution than coal, when both are compared on a full life cycle analysis.
Reducing methane leakage by better operations and by implementing the April, 2012 final EPA rule on air emissions remains an important task. Yet, the reductions in carbon emissions achieved to date, as gas displaces coal and oil, is stunning.
America's 2011 energy-related carbon emissions fell to 1996 levels and 2012 emissions could decline to 1990 levels or slightly more. The biggest driver of these large, quick carbon reductions is the growing use of gas to make electricity.