More bad news for the green lobby: No, fracking does not release outrageous amounts of methane, says new study

posted at 9:21 pm on September 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

One of the many arguments that the rabidly anti-fracking, eco-radical crowd have been using to try and discredit hydraulic fracturing as a welcome boon to both our environment and our economy is the claim that the process itself leaks an unacceptable amount of methane into the atmosphere. Methane, they insist, is an especially potent greenhouse gas, so that on net start-to-finish evaluation, natural gas really isn’t any cleaner than coal and those studies about natural gas contributing so hugely to the United States’ recently decreased carbon emissions can’t really be that accurate.

Unfortunately for them, a brand new study concludes that fracking actually releases much less methane into the atmosphere than opponents as well as the EPA previously suggested. The EPA did revise their emissions estimates downward in April, but this new study takes things down another huge notch, via National Journal:

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science concludes that hydraulic fracturing–the controversial technique behind the nation’s recent oil and gas boom–doesn’t appear to contribute significantly to global warming, as many environmental groups have warned.

… Many environmental groups fear that the process can contaminate underground water supplies–and also that it releases underground stores of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can have 20 times more impact on global warming than carbon dioxide. …

The White House and EPA “have expressed great interest in the findings,” said David Allen, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas and the lead author of the study. Allen has been invited to brief EPA and other administration officials on the research. …

The study concluded that the majority of hydraulically fractured natural-gas wells have surface equipment that reduces on-the-ground methane emissions by 99 percent, although it also found that elsewhere on fracking rigs, some valves do allow methane to escape at levels 30 percent higher than those set by EPA. Overall, however, the study concludes that total methane emissions from fracking are about 10 percent lower than levels set by EPA.

The White House is expressing “great interest” because they’ve lately been coming to terms with accepting natural gas for what it is — a cleaner and economical fuel source that has helped to both reduce our carbon emissions and improve our GDP more than any relentlessly-subsidized and wildly wishful “renewable” venture than any big-government greenies have ever cooked up. They’re still largely referring to natural gas a “bridge fuel,” as if this is just a stopgap measure on our merry way to their wind-and-solar delusions of grandeur, but President Obama has even taken to talking up natural gas in his endless economic pivots.

The timing of the study is especially good for the White House, and I bet that they’ll seize on it with vigor, because they’re really hoping that natural gas will help mitigate the potential for “necessarily skyrocketing” when they introduce their de facto regulatory ban on new coal plants as early as this week. His otherwise lame mega-pander of a ‘climate change action plan’ could really use the help.


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Even if it did, that would just be more energy to tap and divert to useful purposes. Landfills make good use of methane energy all the time.

abobo on September 16, 2013 at 9:24 PM

but, but… the science? it was settled! IT WAS SETTLED!!!!!

Jeddite on September 16, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Eco Pivot…Too Many Cows & Methane & Global Warming & Thunderdome

workingclass artist on September 16, 2013 at 9:26 PM

This is ONLY bad news for the Green Lobby if they actually cared about facts. There has been no global warming for 15 years yet we still have a crisis.

dirtseller on September 16, 2013 at 9:33 PM

This would matter, if they actually cared about science.

Since they will deny science in favor of their religion Gaia-worship – this will not matter to them.

Midas on September 16, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Thanks, Erika. We need to keep up the fight against Hansenkoism, aka Lysenkoism. We seem to be winning, but it’s still an uphill fight, thanks mainly to MSM.

petefrt on September 16, 2013 at 9:36 PM

“What difference, at this point, does science make?”

– LSM-anointed 2016 Empress Killary

ShainS on September 16, 2013 at 9:37 PM

This is jibberish. Natural Gas IS mostly Methane. It’s like saying Gold mining releases unacceptable amounts of Gold.

slickwillie2001 on September 16, 2013 at 9:40 PM

But on Longmire they had an episode where the poor indians were suffering from methane coming out of there taps because of the evil oil company fracking on the edge of the reservation. It was so bad they had to shower with the windows open (in Wyoming in winter).

Now you’e saying it isn’t true?

claudius on September 16, 2013 at 9:42 PM

“Shut up”, they explained.

If the facts don’t support the agenda, they will be dismissed, disreputed, and disbelieved. But they will continue to be facts.

Freelancer on September 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

…who do we believe?

KOOLAID2 on September 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM

This is jibberish. Natural Gas IS mostly Methane. It’s like saying Gold mining releases unacceptable amounts of Gold.

slickwillie2001 on September 16, 2013 at 9:40 PM

No…see…cause…Obama….

workingclass artist on September 16, 2013 at 10:21 PM

It is of no matter to these scumbag ProgTards.
.
A good lie is worth 2 truths, in their deluded pinhead minds.

FlaMurph on September 16, 2013 at 10:26 PM

From The Telegraph newspaper:

EU policy on climate change is right even if science was wrong, says commissioner

Hilarious photo of the chief EU climate liar prophet – and a good article too.

kcewa on September 16, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Facts don’t matter. Fracking is bad because carbon energy is bad. Just ask all those Middlebury environmental sort-of-science graduates (who take no real science courses) responsible for 350.org

MTF on September 16, 2013 at 10:36 PM

The Eco-crowd is not interested in “facts”.

GarandFan on September 16, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Talk about being behind the times. Forget the greens denial of science in terms of fracking. They are also in denial of science in terms of global warming and greenhouse gases, so who would even care if fracking did release an extraordinary amount of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases continue to rise (any changes have been in the rate of increase, not the increase) and the temperature has remained essentially steady for the last 15 years. Further, the actual temperature rise over the last 60+ years is only 0.12 deg C per decade, well below the previously supposed 0.2 deg C per decade. This means the real world data is showing an increase well below the lowest computer model prediction. Either the real world data is wrong (it has recently been lowered as the data was refined) or the computer model is wrong. Anyone familiar with computer models tend to suspect the model if it doesn’t correspond to the real world, not that the real world must somehow be wrong. IF there was a correlation between the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming trends, then greenhouse gases may be the only thing staving off a new ice age.
The reality is that climate change support and assaults on fracking come from two sources. Those who want power to control others and the useful idiots who don’t have enough critical thinking skills to question the PC cant. The first group may not be honest about their goals, but at least it is consistent with a segment of the human population throughout human history (even if that segment is associated with most of the suffering throughout that history). The second group is more to be pitied for mental deficiency than condemned.

yetanotherjohn on September 16, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Well we have more ice when Algore said it would be gone and the temps aren’t rising. But we’re killing birds hand over fist with the “green” wind farms. Suck it greenies. You’re the real flat earthers.

Minnfidel on September 16, 2013 at 11:47 PM

How about these unbiased studies:

Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing

http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/cgc/pnas2011.pdf
The scientific Journal that published the peer reviewed study was the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,found that levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells. They also found that the type of gas detected at high levels in the water was the same type of gas that energy companies were extracting.

And the other peer reviewed Scientific Journal to publish the study and its results was the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN!

Fracking infuses toxic chemicals and gas into drinking-water supplies.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-fracking

I have dozens more if any one is interested.

JustTheFacts on September 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Greens hate natural gas not because it harms the ecology but because it helps the economy. These people are anti-human and anti-civilization. So even if a study said running an economy on natural gas was the the equivalent of using wishes and moonbeams to power the planet, they’d be “agin’ it.” It’s just their way.

Fred 2 on September 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM

There has been no global warming for 15 years yet we still have a crisis.

dirtseller on September 16, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Haven’t you been paying attention? The crisis is now Climate Change. That can pretty much be anything they want it to be.

Kafir on September 17, 2013 at 7:35 AM

I posted this information from PNAS on Wikipedia under the “Methane” section…and within 50 minutes…someone removed it…LOL

LordMaximus on September 17, 2013 at 8:20 AM

JustTheFacts on September 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Regarding your first link… the “peer reviewed” paper admits it’s own logical fallacy by mixing up cause and effect.

“Methane concentrations were detected generally in 51 of 60 drinking-water wells (85%) across the region, regardless of gas industry operations, but concentrations were substantially higher closer to natural-gas wells”

Notice how they admit that methane was already present in the well water regardless of gas industry operations. The mixing up of cause and effect occurs in the last part of the sentence. Why didn’t it occur to them that gas industry operations would naturally target areas with higher concentrations? Let me just say… DUH!

Your second link admits that they cannot prove that fracking contaminates ground water, so it attempts to assign risk based on the operations needed to conduct fracking (such as water transport and retaining pools). At no time do they ever cite an actual incident, but try to maintain their scientific theme by trying to cry wolf. Fearmongering is so primitive in this article (written before this study and the EPA study), that it’s laughable that anyone would believe them. Oh, and they also mix up cause and effect, insinuating that industry operation “closeness” was the cause of elevated methane instead of understanding that those elevated levels were the attraction for them to be there in the first place.

For someone whose nickname is “JustTheFacts”, you seem to be the first to dismiss actual studies on the exact nature of the concerns. But then, that would require rethinking your worldview…

dominigan on September 17, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I should point out to “JustTheFacts”…

If you want to make a valid scientific point about well water contamination, then you need studies on wells over several years that include before and after results of gas industry moving in next to water wells. The scientific flaws in the two links you cited are incredibly glaring in that they are not able to justify the claims they are making because they cannot show an increase in the methane levels based upon the gas industry moving in and starting fracking.

I suggest you recheck your “scientific” sources and look for a study conducted over time showing how levels increased with before/after gas industry started fracking operations. That is the only scientific approach to proving your assertions.

dominigan on September 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM

dominigan on September 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Pattosensei on September 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

…For someone whose nickname is “JustTheFacts”, you seem to be the first to dismiss actual studies on the exact nature of the concerns. But then, that would require rethinking your worldview…

dominigan on September 17, 2013 at 11:07 AM

That’s why we call him “JustTheTalkingPoints”.

slickwillie2001 on September 17, 2013 at 1:01 PM

“leaks an unacceptable amount of methane” does not translate well into business operation terms. That there will be some methane leaking from the fracking operation is to be expected, but the question is what constitutes an “unacceptable” amount? Who set the “limit” that represents what is an “acceptable” amount? How was it validated?

Russ808 on September 17, 2013 at 2:21 PM