Methane emissions from natural gas fracking in B.C. are about double what the government has assumed, according to a recent study initiated by the province and the BC Oil and Gas Commission.
The discrepancy comes from the method used to detect emissions, say the report’s authors. While the government and industry-led emissions studies typically gas imaging cameras to detect methane, the paper echoes a growing body of research challenging the method.
“Recent studies have shown that [optical gas imaging] cameras may not be as effective as originally thought,” wrote the study’s authors.
In the first public study of its kind, researchers used aerial methane measurements — captured by flying over fracking sites and production facilities — to get a clearer picture of their climate impacts. They found significantly higher emissions from sites like production tanks, compressors and unlit gas flares than those being reported.
“This is rigorous research that the government and industry can’t deny because they’ve been involved in it,” said Tom Green, climate solutions policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. “So now we have a much better handle on what those emissions are, and how that’s a problem.”
The research was supported by the BC Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative, a joint collaboration between industry, government non-profits and the Oil and Gas Commission, to support B.C.’s emission targets.
The findings have consequences for the climate — particularly given B.C.’s plan to more than triple its fracking activity by 2040 if the LNG Canada project comes online.
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