Pro-fracking group hits National Park Service over ‘appalling’ comments

The National Park Service is “lend[ing] credence to activist theater” in its formal input on federal hydraulic fracturing rules, a natural-gas industry group alleges.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), in a letter Thursday to Director Jon Jarvis, basically says the Park Service went rogue in its Aug. 23 comments to a sister agency that’s crafting the upcoming fracking regulations.

The group says the Park Service overstates concerns about leakage of the greenhouse gas methane from wells, calling it out of step with other agencies.

“It is appalling that the National Park Service — a well-respected and taxpayer-funded agency —would refuse to acknowledge the conclusions of other federal agencies, such as the EPA and the Department of Energy, on an issue related to environmental protection and U.S. energy production,” writes the IPAA’s Lee Fuller.

The IPAA is upset that the Park Service cited the research of a Cornell University professor who alleges shale gas development is a “gangplank to more [global] warming” due to leaks of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

{mosads}The industry group notes that the professor, Anthony Ingraffea, is a contrarian voice on the topic, and their letter lists other experts, including Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who say natural gas beats coal from a climate standpoint.

“It is absolutely inexcusable that the NPS would lend credence to activist theater and transparently flawed conclusions, especially given the amount of credible scientific literature publicly available,” writes Fuller, the group’s vice president for government relations.

The exchange is merely a skirmish in a much bigger battle over climate change and the U.S. natural-gas boom.

Natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal when burned to create electricity. But some environmentalists fear the methane releases — at least absent much better controls in the field — will erase the climate benefits of natural gas. Ingraffea, for his part, expressed pessimism about controlling the problem in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Obama administration officials are bullish on use of gas to help curb carbon emissions. But policymakers are also increasingly looking at how to control leakage of methane from gas wells, transport and processing sites.

President Obama’s climate plan includes new interagency efforts to get a handle on methane emissions.

E2-Wire has more here, here and here about the methane controversy.

—This post was updated at 8:42 a.m. and 9 a.m. 

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