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September 17, 2013

Environmental Benefits of Shale Development Confirmed by Groundbreaking Methane Emissions Study

Despite claims by environmental groups, a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science concludes that hydraulic fracturing does not appear to contribute significantly to global warming. The peer reviewed study, jointly conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and University of Texas at Austin (UT), focused on methane emissions associated with the safe, tightly-regulated development of shale gas. Key findings from the study indicate that:

• well completion emissions are lower than previously estimated; • estimates of total emissions are similar to the most recent Environmental Protection Agency national inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production; and • the majority of hydraulically fractured natural-gas wells have surface equipment that reduces on-the-ground methane emissions by 99 percent.

In contrast to a 2011 study by Cornell University researchers which ignited opposition to hydraulic fracturing when it concluded that methane leaks from natural-gas wells actually made natural gas a more climate-unfriendly energy source than coal, the EDF/UT study demonstrates that natural gas development using hydraulic fracturing is not a significant contributor to global warming.

This groundbreaking survey is good news and confirms what the natural gas industry has maintained for years regarding the benefits of natural gas. It also refutes one of the primary arguments against natural gas development previously propounded by environmental groups. Once again, the science supports responsible shale development.

The EDF/UT Study can be accessed at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/09/10/1304880110.

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