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A recent development along these lines is the radiation people are exposed to as a result of producing and using the "fracked" natural gas from shale deposits in the US.

The Marcellus Shale and other shale formations where the gas is coming from is low grade uranium ore. The uranium seems to be about as concentrated as in coal ash, or about an order of magnitude above granite.

Just using regular natural gas to cook and heat with exposes the user to 10 times more radioactivity than if they lived next door to a nuclear plant and used electricity. But the "fracked" gas is more radioactive. I haven't been able to find data, as the use of this gas is new. But if you are extracting gas from uranium ore....

And there is some controversy about whether CO2 emissions from using gas are actually lower than coal. If too much methane escapes into the atmosphere during production or transport, because methane is far more powerful than CO2 molecule vrs molecule as a greenhouse gas, then it is possible for the net climate effect of gas to be worse than coal. There is a pesky professor pointing to the new "fracked" gas who is raising this possibility.

Yet, the people who tell us they care about this planet, the Sierra Club, etc, are backing gas. We're all supposed to use gas instead of nuclear to get away from coal, while they talk everyone into building their solar/wind, smart grid, no baseload fantasy world.

Notes:

"13 samples of wastewater brought to the surface... from drilling... contain levels of radium...267 times the limit safe to discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink"

http://www.propublica.org/feature/is-the-marcellus-shale-too-hot-to-handle-1109


The Marcellus Shale formation is "highly radioactive". http://www.pe.tamu.edu/wattenbarger/public_html/Selected_papers/--Shale%20Gas/fractured%20shale%20gas%20potential%20in%20new%20york.pdf

Shales of this type have been mined in Sweden for uranium page 22, The US shales have been similarly considered page 29:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2005/5294/pdf/sir5294_508.pdf


This poor clown at the WorldWatch Institute - http://blogs.worldwatch.org/revolt/natural-gas-versus-coal-clearing-the-air-on-methane-leakage/comment-page-1/#comment-415 - had to argue that methane emitted while coal is mined hasn't been counted in the past, and if you add that in, and shuffle the figures in the right way why by god gas is still "the cleanest pathway" to a "renewable-based economy".

Nice little cup of life, protection of the environment so they can make a lot of contribution! Cool!

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