Fracking, methane, and global warming

Fracking

Fracking

According to an article by Robert W. Howarth the impact of methane from fracking is significantly more important to global warming than previously understood. The analysis of methane from fracking is based on a reconsideration of research from various sources indicating that fugitive and other emissions of methane are significantly larger than previously reported. The Howarth report relied on other research to quantify and calculate the major sources of methane in the fracking process including: fugitive methane from drilling, methane venting, equipment leaks, processing losses, distribution, and storage losses.

The article conveys that the methane losses associated with fracking are both higher than previously thought and greater than those associated with typical natural gas production. When this understanding of methane emissions is coupled with the recent understanding that methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than previously believed, the result is an assessment of hydraulic fracturing that places it in the company of coal and oil as a significant contributor of greenhouse gasses. It seems very possible that the report is underestimating the quantity of fugitive methane emissions by a significant amount.