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From an article about A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found:

that drilling operations at seven well pads emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average, much higher than the EPA-estimated 0.04 grams to 0.30 grams of methane per second.
Methane is really, really bad for the climate!  Yesterday I went into pretty great detail warning of the dangers of a new Fracking binge in China and the problems methane creates in trying to control the effects of Global Warming.  I'm afraid some people may mistakenly believe that Natural Gas is our savior from Climate Change, when it might actually be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

more from the ThinkProgress story.

An analysis of a number of hydraulic fracturing sites in southwestern Pennsylvania has found that methane was being released into the atmosphere at 100 to 1,000 times the rate that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated.


The researchers, who were attempting to understand whether airborne measurements of methane aligned with estimates taken at ground level — the method commonly used by the EPA and state regulators


especially during the first 20 years after it enters the atmosphere when it traps around 86 times as much heat as CO2. So even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact — enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas.


A recent comprehensive Stanford study reviewed over 200 earlier studies to find that “U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates,”


Not only does leaking methane of more than three percent from natural gas production render the fuel no more climate-friendly than coal-fired power plants for some period of time, but it can also be a safety hazard.

Similar fly over studies have been done in Colorado and Utah, and both found more methane leakage then what the EPA is finding, but not to this extent.  A speculation might be that the leakage isn't a point source, but might be coming from the ground around the well.  Earthquakes have been reported in places like Oklahoma which are linked to fracking, so who knows what's happening to the rock around some of the wells.

Before the world goes over the cliff betting on Natural Gas as the fossil fuel savior of the Climate, we really, really need more definitive science about the impacts from wellhead to customer, that NG production has on the Climate.

I went into much deeper detail of the impacts and things that can go wrong when a corrupt country like China goes Fracking Crazy

When we cross the Alternative Energy economic threshold where ALT-E is cheaper than fossil fuels, we can stop robbing dinosaur graves for our energy and let the sun shine on a new economy.  But we need to push our Democratic candidates to stop the incentives to fossil fuels, and start the incentives to save our future.

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Comment Preferences

  •  a quibble with your title (4+ / 0-)

    it makes it seem as if it's a claim coming from thinkprogress, a political news site, when in fact it's a scientific study published in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences, as you explain in the text. i think the headline has more impact if you identify it as science, rather than as a political report.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 10:19:07 AM PDT

    •  His quote is really misleading as well. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis

      From the article abstract:

      Large emissions averaging 34 g CH4/s per well were observed from seven well pads determined to be in the drilling phase, 2 to 3 orders of magnitude greater than US Environmental Protection Agency estimates for this operational phase.
      The drilling phase is a tiny time segment in the entire life of a gas well (Less than 0.5% of the total life on most shallow gas wells.)
      •  Not misleading, operational phase has problems (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis

        also.  I updated the diary to mention that similar studies  in Utah and Colorado also show leakage from operational areas to be higher than the EPA estimates, but not to the extent of this study.

        The important take away here is, if any of these studies is correct, fracking for NG may be no better than burning coal for the atmosphere, and may be much worse.

      •  They drilled through methane bearing coal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, PinHole

        and methane escaped to the atmosphere. This particular problem would not be expected where coal wasn't present in formations above the fracking zone.

        This diary could benefit from more explanation of what happened.

        “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

        by FishOutofWater on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 11:00:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Coal? No mention of coal. (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry, I didn't see any mention of coal in the article nor in the abstract.  The diary also mentions elevated levels found in Utah and Colorado, again, with no mention of coal.

          •  I assume... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...there's a coal seam further up the geologic column above the shale (from his comment.)  In a broader sense, I think he's saying that drilling through gas-saturated layers above the shale is releasing gas into the drilling mud, which in turn is going into the atmosphere.

            •  Then the EPA missed that? (0+ / 0-)

              The problem would be that an areal survey would catch this methane leak from the coal, but an EPA measurement at the wellhead wouldn't?  It's also a pretty big assumption, that I haven't seen any data to support.  We also have the results from Utah and Colorado.

              And does it make a difference?  Even if it's from the coal, which I haven't seen any data to say it is, then the leak is coming from the wellhead, which calls into question the drilling process or even the well casing, or the methane source has been disturbed in a way that it's leaking through the ground, which would be a real disaster.

              The study emphasizes that we really need to understand what is going on here.  If things are going really bad with the fracking process, it could make the greenhouse gas problem with the Canadian tar sands a drop in the bucket.

              Lets not go over the NG cliff without knowing what we're getting into.  This needs more science.  

        •  In SW Penna (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          when drilling to almost any depth, even a shallow one, you are going to go through seams of coal.  They are 1 to 3 ft wide, not enough to mine.  

          Travel Interstate 79, just south of Pittsburgh & north of Washington (PA) and you will see layers of coal in the rock face which was blasted away for the highway.  

          The whole area is full of it.  As you go north into NYS there is less coal, but to the south & west (WVa & Ohio) there is more coal.

          •  Agreed, but where's the data? (0+ / 0-)

            I would be extremely surprised if the scientists conducting the study haven't taken this into consideration.  It may be coming from the coal, which isn't very satisfying, or it may not.  Either way, we better find out where it's coming from before we go from the coal frying pan to the Natural Gas fire.

  •  Also meant to express (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollwatcher, forgore

    appreciation pollwatcher for bringing the studies to our attention.

    They need more publicity.  

  •  None of this can be true. (0+ / 0-)

    Everyone knows, that when you fracture the earth, all the methane flows directly to the well head because it is directly linked to the funding.

    It's just like popping a balloon. All the air goes back into the helium tank, because there is less space there, and nature abhors a vacuum.

    And if all this gas and oil came from dinosaurs, they lived just 3000 years ago, so long term effects are negligible.

    See how simple that is?

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