Shale Gas vs. Coal

25 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2012 Last revised: 3 Apr 2012

See all articles by Steffen Jenner

Steffen Jenner

University of Tuebingen; Harvard University

Alberto J Lamadrid

Lehigh University; Cornell University

Date Written: March 18, 2012


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.

Keywords: Shale gas, coal, lifecycle analysis, environmental protection, regulation

JEL Classification: O13, Q4, Q53, Q54, L95

Suggested Citation

Jenner, Steffen and Lamadrid, Alberto J, Shale Gas vs. Coal (March 18, 2012). USAEE Working Paper No. 2025627, Available at SSRN: or

Steffen Jenner (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alberto J Lamadrid

Lehigh University ( email )

621 Taylor Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
United States


Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics