A group that promises to bring transparency to the discussion of unconventional natural gas development is dismissing a recent study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance.
The study, released June 4, concluded the industry is responsible for half of the methane emissions attributed to it by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency in April issued new rules to limit emissions from hydraulic fracturing, a technique used in most oil and natural gas operations.
The nonprofit Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy on Tuesday called the industry’s study “fatally flawed.” The group issued a statement from Cornell University professors Anthony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth and research technician Renee Santoro.
“The study relies on a critically flawed survey design, completely ignores many other recent studies, and would not have passed peer-review in a scientific journal.”
The scientists contend the industry groups’ study is based on a biased survey, highly selective information and an uncertain approach.
The group praised a recent study by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, which they said measured the actual flux of methane from an unconventional gas field. It showed emissions were higher than the EPA’s estimates.
“More such studies are needed, evaluating emissions from both conventional and unconventional gas fields, and the downstream emissions from pipelines and urban distribution systems.”
The group concludes “the best available science” indicates that natural gas has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than any other fossil fuel, so it should not be regarded as a bridge fuel to cleaner alternatives.
Industry advocates have dismissed the group for its ties to the Park Foundation, which helped fund the anti-gas documentary “Gasland” and other attacks on gas development. Ingraffea and Howarth also have been criticized for inaccurate work.