Fracked natural gas has greatly increased fugitive methane emissions in North America. We now know that methane is 105 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide while both gases are in the atmosphere. Global warming science tells us that we must phase out fossil fuels within 30 years and it must start with natural gas.
The impact of abandoned and orphaned well emissions is also significant. One study found that these emissions, which left unmitigated continue over perhaps centuries, account for up to 9% of Pennsylvania anthropogenic emissions (includes agriculture and municipal wastes and active drilling). These emissions have more impact than the one-time emissions during production which in turn are much greater than the CO2 emissions due to combustion.
Stopping natural gas demand as soon as possible is the highest priority. Millions of wells need to be effectively sealed (as yet to be determined how). Due to the cost to remediate, there is a high likelihood that the industry will walk away or go bankrupt.
Affordable energy in our communities must be based on least-cost transformation to zero emissions forms of energy. Towns can provide district heating supplied by biomass cogeneration processing farming and forestry byproducts which is economically favourable to natural gas.
Geothermal energy sources are another cost effective way to supply heat. Ground-source heat pumps are less expensive than the cost per customer to bring in natural gas.
The production of fracked gas has been termed a Ponzi scheme where producers are losing money and their cash flow is maintained by bonds purchased by banks and trust funds. When the next crash happens, it will be partially due to printing money and loaned at ridiculously low rates that enable the North American fossil fuel industries to make payments by increasing debt.
Furthermore, if it is not economically viable to expand natural gas supplies, it simply should not be done. Current customers should not have to pay more for that expansion.
In conclusion, natural gas is not the “bridge fuel” that is has been touted to be. We need to transition as quickly as possible away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy sources. In the long run, that is the most economical path. The consequences of unmitigated climate disruption will cost far more than the conversion to a clean energy economy.
Submitted November 30, 2018 9:06 PM