Methane Continues to Pollute Even After Drilling Stops


Wheeling — According to researchers at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, methane pollution from natural gas extraction continues to grow long after the drilling rigs and frack trucks are gone.

Industry leaders justify continue to emphasize that the use of their fuel (i.e. natural gas) to produce electricity results in lower carbon dioxide pollution compared to coal; they reference statistics that shows the amount of methane in the air declined as production of natural gas increased.

Methane is the main component in natural gas, which is primarily used to produce heat and electricity.

Environmental Protection Agency data show emissions of the compound fell nearly 15 percent from 1990-2014, at the same time natural gas production increased by 47 percent.

“Thanks to industry efforts over the past several decades, the U.S. is leading the world in reducing emissions – down to near 20-year lows – all while energy production has been going up significantly,” Erik Milito, upstream director for the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute, said late last year while testifying before Congress. “In a dynamic, innovation-driven industry like energy, the U.S. should not put in place prescriptive regulations on technological improvements or shrink opportunities for investments that have the potential to deliver environmental benefits and consumer savings for years to come.”

In 2015, the Obama administration’s EPA announced mandates for drillers to eventually cut methane pollution by 45 percent. According to information now on the Trump administration’s EPA website, methane is up to 36 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. However, methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, the agency adds.

For the Drexel methane study, researchers headed to the heavily drilled northeastern Pennsylvania portion of the Marcellus Shale region. Even as the number of active drilling rigs fell in the area, researchers said they found atmospheric methane levels on the rise. Drexel chemistry professor Peter DeCarlo, one of the study’s organizers, said this could be due to insufficient pollution reduction measures. Also, natural gas production and processing take place long after drilling is finished.

“Methane is increasing globally, but the rate of increase for this region is much more rapid than global increases,” he said. “With the increased background levels of methane, the relative climate benefit of natural gas over coal for power production is reduced.”

According to DeCarlo, air measurements in this area showed 1,960 parts per billion in 2012, but climbed by another 100 parts per billion by 2015.

In areas without shale extraction, the amount of methane in the air climbed by only six parts per billion during the same time frame, DeCarlo said.

“Though the rate at which new wells are being drilled and completed has slowed down, the overall infrastructure and production has increased,” DeCarlo said. “If the leakage rate of methane is constant per cubic foot of gas, it would not be surprising that the background methane has increased as much as it has while other pollutants like carbon monoxide, which is more associated with drilling and trucking, are showing a decline.”

However, API President and CEO Jack Gerard maintains his industry is helping to curb overall air pollution.

“The U.S. leads the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, as well as in the reduction of carbon emissions,” he said.


Article cited from https://goo.gl/ZqIPCO


  1. Waste No Waste: Time to Embrace Biogas
  2. Is Big Gas finally learning to love biogas?
  3. We need to get behind Renewable Natural Gas
  4. Difference between a Turbo and Positive Displacement Blower
  5. The Difference between Methane and Natural Gas
  6. First Dairy Biogas Project in Connecticut
  7. Does Renewable Natural Gas Have a Future in Energy?
  8. Biogas Offtake Opportunities For Digesters
  9. Wisconsin Dairy Begins Production of Renewable Natural Gas
  10. Anaerobic Digestion Sector Forming a Clearer Picture
  11. Brightmark to Expand Western New York Dairy Biogas Project
  12. Biogas - The Energy Wonder That's Under Our Noses
  13. Power Generation Achieved by a Self-Assembled Biofuel Cell
  14. Less Carbon Dioxide from Natural Gas
  15. Project Uses Renewable Electricity for RNG Production
  16. Smithfield Hog Farm Provides Natural Gas to Missouri City
  17. From Waste to Gas
  18. Gas Clash Threatens Australian Export
  19. Maximizing Opportunities of Anaerobic Digestion from Wastewater
  20. Catalyst to Speed up Conversion of Biomass to Biofuel
  21. How It Works: Ethanol
  22. Anaerobic Digestion - the Next Big Renewable Energy Source
  23. Anaerobic Additions
  24. Three (3) Tech Solutions for Modern Landfills
  25. The Costs and Benefits of Anaerobic Digesters
  26. Bacteria Farts Power Wastewater Plant in Fort Wayne
  27. Europe’s First Poultry Manure Biogas Plant
  28. Electricity Using Pig Manure
  29. $38-Million Biodigester coming to Grand Rapids
  30. Biochar Could Benefit Anaerobic Digestion of Animal Manure

For additonal reading, please visit us at: News Worthy

Difference between a Turbo and Positive Displacement Blower