Methane Leaks from Fracking are Much Worse than We Thought

methane leaks fracking

A major new study in Geophysical Research Letters by 19 researchers from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) shows that the natural gas fields leaked 6-12% of the total methane produced, on average, throughout the month of February … that’s way bad.

The natural gas industry needs to keep methane leaks below 2% to stay emissions-competitive with coal, according to Professor Anthony Ingraffea. Ingraffea authored a 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research that was recognized by Time magazine, and has found other gas fields with average daily methane leaks as high as 17% using NOAA measurements. More than enough, in other words, to cause some serious problems for people living and farming near gas wells who rely on well-water for drinking and irrigation.

According to Joe Romm at Climate Progress, “The Uinta Basin is of particular interest because it produces about 1% of total US natural gas and fracking has increased there over the past decade … and this study confirms earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings continue to be replicated elsewhere, they would utterly vitiate the direct climate benefit of natural gas, even when it is used only to switch off coal.”

All of this is bad, and gives you a sense of why American gas companies are willing to pay someone almost three-quarters-of-a-million dollars to STFU about what’s really going on, doesn’t it? Stay safe people, and watch out for that arsenic.


Sources: Treehugger, Climate Progress.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.