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JISEA Report Examines Impact of Natural Gas on U.S. Electric Power

GHG impacts, regulation, industry practices and power sector dynamics analyzed

The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) released the first report in a series of studies on natural gas and the U.S. energy sector. Entitled " Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity," this report provides a new methodological approach to estimate natural gas related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, tracks trends in regulatory and voluntary industry practices, and explores various electricity futures.

"There is currently a national debate over life cycle GHG emissions from shale natural gas," NREL Senior Scientist Garvin Heath said. "We address it by conducting one of the first independent 'bottom up assessments' in this field."

Published results of natural gas life cycle GHG emissions rely on very limited data, include a broad range of analytic assumptions, and have results that vary considerably. The JISEA study leverages inventories of air pollutant emissions from more than 16,000 sources in Texas' Barnett Shale, providing the first estimate of life cycle GHG emissions using an independent harmonized data set.

The JISEA study found that life cycle GHG emissions associated with electricity generated from 2009 Barnett Shale gas were very similar to conventional natural gas and less than half of those from coal-fired electricity generation.

JISEA also looked at how legal and regulatory frameworks governing shale gas development are changing in response to public concerns, particularly in areas of the country that have less experience with oil and gas development.

"The report is intended to inform both the national and international dialogue on this subject in a few key areas critical to decision makers," JISEA Executive Director Doug Arent said.