The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a paper on their assessment of the potential impacts natural gas extraction on climate change that is worth reading, particularly if you are concerned about the push to shift from coal to natural gas for electric energy production. Click here for the pdf version of the paper: UCS-Position-on-Natural-Gas-Extraction-and-Use-for-Electricity-and-Transportation-in-the-United-States.
In part they state:
“… new research suggests that methane leakage during the extraction and distribution of natural gas may be undermining the potential to reduce global warming emissions by using natural gas in place of higher-carbon fossil fuels such as coal and oil. And new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or “tracking”) techniques that have allowed domestic gas and oil production to expand rapidly over the past decade have raised new questions about the impacts that natural gas extraction and use will have on climate change, public health and safety, land and water resources, and people. This expansion is currently outpacing our capacity to understand and manage the attendant risks.
During our nation’s transition to a low-carbon energy future, natural gas can plan an important but limited role in the electricity and transportation section —if policies sufficient to minimize emissions and protect communities and public health are put in place.”
“Stronger state and federal laws and regulations are needed to better understand and reduce the environmental and public health risks of hydraulic fracturing. Consistent with the recommendations of a recent U.S. Department of Energy report (DOE2011), this include: … (see paper’s conclusion and references).