fracking fluid leak Pennsylvania
may be a bigger global warming issue than thought, according to a new study
published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long.
The study says that the EPA has underestimated the amount of methane in the atmosphere due to faulty testing and reporting methods.
Much of that extra methane, also called natural gas, seems to be coming from leaks from the refining and drilling for oil and gas, known as fracking, which blows up the whole notion of natural gas as a short-term bridge fuel to a carbon-free economy. It also includes a major contribution from industrial livestock production which it says has been underestimated.
The study estimates that in 2008, the U.S. poured 49 million tons of methane into the air. That means U.S. methane emissions trapped about as much heat as all the carbon dioxide pollution coming from cars, trucks, and planes in the country in six months.
Overall, we conclude that methane emissions associated with both the animal husbandry and fossil fuel industries have larger greenhouse gas impacts than indicated by existing inventories.
This study shows that we are on the right track in reducing meat consumption and in protesting fracking. Although it is very difficult to have any political solution at this time due to the corruption of the political process by fossil fuel interests, the UN COP19 meeting in Warsaw has announced that the Clean Air and Climate Coalition
(CCAC), which was founded by the US to reduce the short-lived climate pollutants, will launch
a partnership with oil and gas companies to reduce the potent greenhouse gas methane. This is out of the UN process and voluntary but may be successful for that very reason.