17 February 2016
Despite the plentiful commercials on cable networks touting clean natural gas, there is more to the story. Methane emissions have noticeably increased in the U.S. according to research published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters. There has been a lot of talk recently about how much natural gas escapes from fracking wells and the huge leak in Southern California has been national news for over two months. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, but it only stays in the atmosphere around a decade while CO2 stays in the air for centuries. Fracking processes in Oklahoma (deep injection of waste water) has been shown by numerous studies now to be the cause of the almost amazing increase in quakes there.
Here is the abstract of the paper:
The global burden of atmospheric methane has been increasing over the
past decade but the causes are not well understood. National inventory estimates
from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate no
significant trend in US anthropogenic methane emissions from 2002 to present.
Here we use satellite retrievals and surface observations of atmospheric methane
to suggest that US methane emissions have increased by more than 30% over
the 2002–2014 period. The trend is largest in the central part of the country
but we cannot readily attribute it to any specific source type. This large
increase in US methane emissions could account for 30–60% of the global growth
of atmospheric methane seen in the past decade.
-We identify a large increase in US methane emissions over the past decade.
-Increase occurred during a time when emission inventories indicate no change
in US emissions.