A controversial Berkeley professor tries to frack China with the help of a Shell oil executive
by Jesse Coleman
December 16, 2013
© Les Stone / Greenpeace
"Burning coal is the biggest source of air pollution in China, the country is still highly dependent on coal. China must stop the coal rush, by cutting excessive capacity from the steel and cement industries. Renewable Energy is the proven solution for China for sourcing clean energy without air pollution, CO2 emission and intensive water use. But, shale gas is not even the transition energy for China."People living near fracking operations would be surprised to learn that fracking was beneficial to air quality. In Colorado, the industry recently admitted that fracking caused serious air quality problems. In areas of Colorado with shale drilling and fracking, the air quality is as bad as Los Angeles, twice the level that federal regulators say should exist. Families in Colorado have been uprooted and forced to move from shale drilling areas because of health concerns. In fact, levels of PM2.5 have skyrocketed in Colorado, due to the tens of thousands of diesel tractor trailers necessary to service fracking sites. The Mullers never addresses this in the paper. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] A Pennsylvania woman must use a respirator in and around her home because of fracking industry activity under her farm.[/caption] The Muller paper also gives schizophrenic answers to the problem of climate change. Muller oscillates from claiming that global warming is a serious long term threat and that gas can help address the global warming issue to claiming that gas will not halt global warming. Studies on the greenhouse impact of methane, the primary component of gas, have shown it to be up to 105 times as powerful as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Furthermore, scientists have theorized that fugitive emissions of methane from fracking wells could make gas worse than coal pollution for the climate. A study in the Uintah basin in Utah found gas wells leaking up to 60 tons of methane per hour. When the entire lifecycle of gas is taken in to account, including the gas used for chemical feedstocks, as a recent report by the Environmental Integrity Project has done, it becomes clear that shale gas and fracking pose serious threats to the climate system. [caption id="attachment_22476" align="alignnone" width="600"] A man in Pennsylvania ignites the methane escaping from his water supply, contaminated by shale drilling and fracking.[/caption] The Mullers paper calls the issue of fugitive emissions and their global warming impact mistaken, because methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2. However, the Mullers do not address the fact that continued increases in shale drilling and fracking lead to expanding levels of methane loss, thereby providing a constant stream of methane into the atmosphere for years to come. The report was commissioned by the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank started by Margaret Thatcher and based in the United Kingdom. The Centre for Policy Studies, which is funded in part by tobacco corporations, is known for its conservative, pro industry politics. The Centre has been a key booster of fracking in the United Kingdom, where drilling has met with massive protests.