Tuesday, April 19, 2011

T. Boone Pickens to America: go frack yourself

An excerpt from E&E News PM:

NATURAL GAS: Pickens dismisses Cornell emissions study

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oilman now promoting a plan to harness wind energy and natural gas, brushed off a Cornell University study today that found coal is in some ways cleaner than gas.

"That's the only person I've ever heard say coal is cleaner than gas," Pickens said in a luncheon speech at the National Press Club. "I don't know who paid him to do that study."

Cornell professor Robert Howarth and two colleagues released a study last week that disputes the widely stated belief that gas is twice as "clean" as coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Their research found that the process of "hydraulic fracturing," which is required to extract gas from shale, emits enough methane to make it dirtier than coal in the short term and "comparable" in the long term (Greenwire, April 11). Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide but does not last as long in the atmosphere.

The finding has been fiercely disputed by industry. But Howarth has staunchly defended his study...

Pickens is pushing for legislation that would subsidize conversion of heavy trucks to operate on natural gas.

Pickens appeared with fellow billionaire Ted Turner in a press club session billed as an energy debate. But Turner did not debate Pickens' points on gas drilling.

"He knows a lot more about it," said Turner, the CNN founder who is investing much of his fortune and fame to fight climate change. "He's an oilman. I'm a TV guy."

Pickens also dismissed contentions that hydraulic fracturing contaminates groundwater, saying that he "fracked" 3,000 wells through the Ogallala Aquifer without damaging drinking water. The aquifer sprawls under parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

"You're [drilling and fracturing] 2 or 3 miles below the aquifer," Pickens said. "You tell me how you could contaminate the water.

"People ask me, 'You fracked 3,000 wells? How do you feel about yourself,'" Pickens recalled. "I tell 'em, 'I feel about the same as I did yesterday.'"

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