Fracking linked to methane risk: "When methane concentrations are that high, water can bubble like champagne."


fracking cartoon Clay BennettVia Clay Bennett

Regular readers know that fracking (which is when water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected deep underground at high pressure to shatter rock formations to unlock oil and gas trapped inside) is a topic I write about regularly (scroll). If corporations are people, my friend, let them guzzle tap water in the form of chemically induced flames that spew from faucets where fracking is prevalent, as is depicted in the excellent film Gasland.

That said, President Obama just gave his speech on what he can do to counter climate change without having to rely on our good old not-foresighted deniers in Congress. By the way, Cable News Virtually Ignored Obama’s Major Climate Speech:

All of the three major news networks spent mere minutes on the speech — which ran in total 49 minutes.

MSNBC: 41 seconds

FOX News: 4 minutes and 37 seconds

CNN: 8 minutes and 5 seconds

The Weather Channel: 49 minutes

I actually tweeted about the conspicuous lack of coverage during the speech itself:

"@chrislhayes: This is an incredibly thorough, serious, sophisticated speech.| Thank you for noticing, Chris. Where's everyone else?"

The president stressed taking advantage of our plentiful supply of natural gas, adding that (paraphrased in my livetweet) "we'll make drilling safer, cleaner, less methane." I felt compelled to add, "How about that fracking, Pres. O?" That last part from the president about the very real risks of methane pollution was hugely important and worthy of note, as this article in the Los Angeles Times points out:

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that drinking-water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania within a kilometer of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, showed methane concentrations six times greater, on average, than in wells farther away. [...]

The study released Monday expands a project, published by Duke researchers two years ago, that the oil and gas industry criticized for testing too few wells, and for failing to account for natural sources of methane in local well water. This time, the scientists tested 141 wells, up from 60. [...]

The study found that at the 59 homes within a kilometer of a natural gas well, methane levels were on average much higher than those farther away.

Of the 59 homes, a dozen had water wells with methane concentrations greater than 28 milligrams per liter of water, which the Interior Department has identified as the threshold for immediate remediation of a well.

“When the methane concentrations are that high, the water can bubble like champagne,” [the study’s lead author, Robert B. Jackson, professor of environmental sciences at Duke University] said.


toasting glasses

fracking faucet flames