So, here's another study (from Princeton) on the heels of others from Stanford and Cornell showing that excessive methane leakage from fracking wells basically negates the climate benefit of developing natural gas as a 'bridge fuel', i.e. alternative to burning coal for power.
Of the 19 fracking (AOG) wells researched in PA, all were found to emit significant methane emissions, with 3 classed as 'super-emitters', even among supposedly 'plugged' wells. There are up to 900,000 fracking wells in PA alone.
Methane traps up to 86 times more greenhouse gasses than CO2 over a 20-year period. The Stanford study concluded, "A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates."
Personally, I believe natural gas CAN be a viable source of energy, but ONLY if the drillers are able to recapture leaking methane and stop causing more harm to the atmosphere than it actually helps. This is not even about groundwater contamination but the overall cumulative effects of the health hazards created by gas development. Energy efficiency is a worthy goal, but in many, many cases, fracking has so far proven very inefficient...especially when estimated over the long-term.
Meanwhile, employees of the PA Dept. Of Health were ordered NOT to talk to residents sickened from fracking activity near their homes. The drillers are actively preventing doctors from telling patients what fracking chemicals are making them sick, preventing more legislative studies on the negative health effects of fracking and suing people who try to talk about their fracking-related illnesses after settling for damages with the gas companies. (A jury in Texas awarded $2.9 million to a family who were sickened. This is punctuated by a TX state inspector who also got sick when he went to collect air samples from the fracking site - the AG's office sued, and the company settled for $108K.)
There is simply no excuse for oil and gas drillers not to look for and extract fossil fuels as safely and ecologically sound as possible. If they can't do it right, they shouldn't do it at all. Unfortunately, they ruin it for the many developers who truly care about the effect they have on the local environment and install safeguards to protect against methane leakage.
"When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front-row seat." - GC