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Study says 'fracking' makes natural gas worse for environment than coal

Researchers at Cornell University will soon publish the findings of a new report that paints a dirty picture of natural gas -- often touted as a "clean" energy source. While burning gas may release less CO2 than coal, that doesn't take into account the whole picture when it comes to the climate. By using a process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" natural gas actually contributes more to global warming pollution than coal through the methane released.

The Hill reports:

“Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth, however, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing -- dubbed "fracking" -- brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production.

“Enough, he argues, to negate the carbon advantage that gas has over coal and oil when they're burned for energy, because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas.”

Natural gas is often hailed by the Obama Administration and others [including the BC Liberal government] as a clean source of energy. The news also comes at a time when fracking is falling under much scrutiny because of its affects on drinking water, human health and the environment.

The Tyee has run these recent stories about fracking and its effects in British Columbia:

A Fracking Disaster in the Making: Report Blasting shale rock with toxic fluid can release riches in natural gas, but threatens critical water supplies. By Andrew Nikiforuk

Our Water Secretly Sucked Away by Shale Gas Industry Beyond public scrutiny, vast amounts of B.C.'s water are being dealt to 'fracking' operations. By Ben Parfitt

The Gwyn Morgan File: Rise of a Shale Gas Baron Christy Clark picked the EnCana empire builder to guide her into power, and that says volumes about who's shaping B.C.'s future. Part one of two. By Andrew Nikiforuk

The Gwyn Morgan File: EnCana's Grip on BC How Christy Clark's advisor steered his Alberta petro giant to become the most powerful corporation in this province. Second of two. By Andrew Nikiforuk

Tara Lohan writes for Alternet where a version of this first appeared.

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