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Stunning new research finds fracking a major source of carbon pollution in Pennsylvania

Stunning new research finds fracking a major source of carbon pollution in Pennsylvania

Methane leaks in the state’s oil and gas industry equal 11 coal-fired power plants.

Flaring takes place after a gas well has been drilled and before it is put into operation. CREDIT: Carolyn Cole/L.A. Times via Getty Images
FLARING TAKES PLACE AFTER A GAS WELL HAS BEEN DRILLED AND BEFORE IT IS PUT INTO OPERATION. CREDIT: CAROLYN COLE/L.A. TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES

The evidence is now overwhelming that natural gas is not part of the climate solution, it is part of the problem.

new study finds that the methane escaping from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry “causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.” And that is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state, according to analysis from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) based on 16 peer-reviewed studies.

Natural gas is mostly methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. So even a small leakage rate from the natural gas supply chain (production to delivery to combustion) can have a large climate impact  —  enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas for a long, long time.

Yet even though many earlier studies have found that natural gas production spews out huge amounts of carbon pollution all across the country, just last week, the Trump administration moved to undo an Obama-era rule aimed at limiting the methane leakage from gas and oil production on public lands.

As EDF’s president Fred Krupp told the New York Times, “Gutting the rule would allow unchecked waste of natural gas, unnecessary pollution and the loss of revenue to communities and tribes to address critical needs such as schools and roads,”

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