Shale Gas vs. Coal
University of Tuebingen; Harvard University
Alberto J Lamadrid
Lehigh University; Cornell University
March 18, 2012
USAEE Working Paper No. 2025627
The aim of this paper is to examine the environmental impacts of shale gas, conventional gas and coal on air, water, and land in the United States. These factors decisively affect the quality of life (public health and safety) as well as local and global environmental protection. Comparing various lifecycle assessments, this paper will suggest that a shift from coal to shale gas would benefit public health, the safety of workers, local environmental protection, water consumption, and the land surface. Most likely, shale gas also comes with a smaller GHG footprint than coal. However, shale gas extraction can affect water safety. This paper also discusses related aspects that exemplify how shale gas can be more beneficial in the short and long term. First, there are technical solutions readily available to fix the most crucial problems of shale gas extraction, such as methane leakages and other geo-hazards. Second, shale gas is best equipped to smoothen the transition to an age of renewable energy. Finally, this paper will recommend tighter regulations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: Shale gas, coal, lifecycle analysis, environmental protection, regulation
JEL Classification: O13, Q4, Q53, Q54, L95
Date posted: March 20, 2012 ; Last revised: April 3, 2012
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