In the wake of two new studies which suggest shale gas development causes high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, CCNB Action is calling on Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney to examine the impact of exploiting shale gas on New Brunswick’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
Significant methane leaks have been found at fracking sites prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to increase the methane emission numbers it attributes to unconventional natural gas developments by as much as 8,850 times.
Methane gas is an extremely potent greenhouse gas that has may times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. According to the recent study by Prof. Robert Howarth of Cornell University, these methane emissions mean that “compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon.”
This study follows the release of a Canadian study on the impacts of scrubbing and venting the large concentration of carbon dioxide found in certain shale gas. Mark Jaccard in this study advised the Government of British Columbia that it will not be possible to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets unless it abandoned the development of shale gas or required capture and storage.
Raphael Shay, Climate & Energy Coordinator at CCNB Action, is alarmed by the findings of these new studies.
“As we have seen from the floods, storm surges and rising costs of food, New Brunswick is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change” states Shay. “We cannot afford to brush this issue under the rug. Our emission targets are already extremely low compared to what scientists are recommending. It is urgent that the Minister have her staff analyse the impact shale gas development will have on our climate targets as industry resumes its exploration activities this Spring.”
New Brunswick’s ten year old commitment to a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, is now seen as inadequate as most science-based targets are being set at 25% below 1990 levels.
 Environmental Protection Agency. (November, 2010). Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting from the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry – Background Technical Support Document.
 Howarth, R.W., Santoro, R. & Ingraffea, A. (2011). Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. Climatic Change. Available at: https://motherjones.com/files/04-11shale_gas_footprint_fulltextpdf.pdf
 Jaccard, M. & Griffin, B. (nd). Shale gas and climate targets: Can they be reconciled? Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.