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December 30, 2014

Scientists were so surprised when they first saw the huge plume of methane over New Mexico, three years ago, that they couldn’t quite believe their data. But as the Washington Post reported yesterday, December 29th, 2014 in “Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane,” the cloud of methane has been confirmed to be caused by fracking. verified by NASA and by University of Michigan scientists this October:

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post [Cuba, New Mexico] may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud,

The Washington Post, even while drawing attention to the problem, understates it by referring to outdated government figures for the damage methane does to climate and for the portion of methane being released into the atmosphere due to oil and gas production. But it vividly reports the gross waste involved as methane seeps directly into the air during every stage of fracking, from well drilling to fracking, compressor stations, and pipelines:

All told, oil and gas producers lose 8 million metric tons of methane a year, enough to provide power to every household in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

For current information on the grossly underestimated methane leaks, see EcoWatch: “Study Finds Underestimated Methane Emissions Negate Industry Claims of Fracked Gas’ Benefits.”

A November 2014 report shows that in the short term, the EPA must take immediate action to reduce methane emissions by 50%. But as Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign, acknowledges, “The most effective way to solve the climate crisis is to keep all dirty fossil fuels, like fracked gas, in the ground, because even the most rigorous methane controls will fail to do what is needed to fight climate disruption.”

Please read, comment on, and write letters in response to yesterday’s important Washington Post article. Read in full: “Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane.”

Do your elected officials know about this? Please make sure to share this data about the huge methane plume not just with those already freaked out about fracking, but with your electeds. We are just about over the climate cliff. Make 2015 a year of climate action.




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