Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

The Cornell researchers acknowledge that the available data is incomplete, and industry groups were quick to counter their conclusions. Energy in Depth, a group representing independent U.S. petroleum producers, accused Howarth of using low-quality data to “jack up” the global-warming potential of methane. It also took issue with his decision to focus on the impacts over 20 years. Howarth, however, says that critical events in climate change are likely to happen in the next two decades, meaning that the short-term impact of methane is an important factor in measuring long-term climate consequences.

On the issue of data quality, Howarth concedes that he didn’t have the best information to work with. “The reason is that all of the data come from industry sources … and industry has not been very forthcoming,” he says, adding that the EPA has proposed regulations that require better reporting on methane leakage. “Were the industry to comply, then more and better documented data could become available, and one could improve on our study.”

Mark Jaccard, a professor of energy and materials research at Simon Fraser University, says he’s not surprised by the findings of the Cornell study. But he suggests that the results are not an argument against shale gas. Instead, the study should be a timely call for stricter regulations. “Shale gas could be produced in a way that had very little emissions,” he says.

Indeed, the Cornell study points to various ways that drillers and pipeline operations could reduce methane emissions by up to 90 percent. But, the study adds, “these technologies are currently not in wide use.”

20 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Tagged: Energy, energy, climate change, natural gas, greenhouse gases

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me