Dan Randolph’s Feb. 27 Thinking Green column (Herald, Feb. 27) was so misleading that the La Plata Energy Council must respond.
First, the Cornell University study has been debunked many times. In fact, a study from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab casts even more doubt on the Cornell study with several important conclusions: “Average natural-gas baseload power generation has life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions 53 percent lower than average coal baseload power generation.” All forms of natural gas scored significantly lower on GHG emissions than coal-powered generation.
Additionally, the NETL concluded that during a 20-year time horizon, “Average natural-gas baseload power generation has life cycle GHG emissions 42 percent lower than average coal baseload power generation.”
Another way the column is misleading is in the characterization of flaring as a result of “the companies choosing to pollute,” which is very disingenuous. The natural gas and oil industry agrees flaring costs valuable revenue, so it sends its gas to market as soon as technically feasible in the production process. Flaring is occurring for several reasons Randolph did not take care to mention. First, these oil wells are hydraulically fractured using nitrogen to limit water use. However, interstate pipelines restrict nitrogen content. So, until the nitrogen level is at an acceptable level, the gas is flared.
Second, the pipeline structure in the Lybrook area is either not in place or not adequate to safely handle the pressure of the more recent exploratory wells drilled in the Gallup Formation. And until the companies drilling have proven they have a good producing well, it would cause unnecessary disturbance to build a pipeline. Finally, pipeline construction requires time, manpower and capital to purchase rights of way, obtain necessary permits and comply with all regulations. Companies are undertaking those steps right now.
The La Plata Energy Council and its members encourage the Herald’s readers to get the facts, not just believe random statements in a guest column.