A Single Ohio Fracking Well Vented More Methane In Just 20 Days Than Whole Nations Do In A Year

By Mark Sumner
Daily Kos (12/19/19)

Less than a week ago, a study on methane “super emitters” revealed something about the scope of the environmental threat represented by Donald Trump’s refusal to regulate methane release at wells. Not only are these sources making a significant and often unrecognized contribution to the climate crisis, but they can be difficult to find. Methane is invisible and, without the mercaptan added by utility companies to give gas its distinctive stink, even high levels of the gas can be odorless. Even when a satellite or plane identifies high methane in an area, pinpointing a specific well or storage facility is almost impossible without the kind of monitoring devices that the Trump Environmental Protection Agency is trying to eliminate.

Or it is almost impossible most of the time. A brand-new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows an example of a single well venting methane in a way that was not only highly visible, but almost unbelievable. As in, this single well released more methane in three weeks than most entire nations do in a year. So much methane that this single well, venting over a period of about 20 days, may have been a significant contributor to altering the climate.

This particular super-duper emitter came from a fracking well in Ohio that blew during development in 2018. The emissions from the well were so strong that they became almost immediately visible to the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument aboard the orbiting Sentinel-5P satellite.

And this staggering, potentially world-altering in a very literal way event went more or less unnoticed. …

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link toe www.thcommonercall.org )