Back in April, the EPA officially recognized that drilling for natural gas releases more methane than the agency had thought and offered a new methodology for estimating methane emissions connected to natural gas. The Worldwatch Institute, which does sustainability research, and the Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors, who do pretty much what their name says they do, crunched the numbers and found that, despite this, natural gas still releases less atmosphere-clogging gas than coal.
That’s not to say that we should frack up the whole country. Natural gas from shale has higher greenhouse-gas emissions than gas from conventional sources, for starters, so overreliance on fracked natural gas could change the equation. And even if natural gas is less emissions-producing than coal over its whole life cycle over the whole country, that doesn’t mean fracking isn’t super-destructive for nearby ecosystems and communities.