Fracking Emits Un Poquitito Methane

by Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, and Ryan Streams, Regulatory Affairs Analyst on September 14, 2016 - 3:05pm

In a recent episode of JEOPARDY!, host Alex Trebek waded into fracking misinformation hot water with a question implying methane emissions from fracking. The premise to the question falsely stated that “mucho methane” is released during hydraulic fracturing.

It turns out that Trebek needs to either brush up on his Spanish or basic information on fracking, because actually, un poquitito of methane emissions are released. More precisely, fracking methane emissions account for a miniscule 0.0000875% of the methane produced from an average well, using numbers from a recent study by Colorado State University. Mucho methane indeed. Scientists used multiple techniques to capture detailed emissions data from fracking operations in Garfield County, Colorado, including the flowback process of returning the fracking fluids to the surface. 

Those methane emissions are even smaller when considering that increased use of natural gas, made possible by fracking, has enabled the United States to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency, EPA, Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute and many others credit natural gas for delivering huge climate change reduction benefits. IPCC specifically calls out fracking, stating, “…the rapid deployment of hydraulic-fracturing and horizontal-drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply and allowed for a more extensive switching of power and heat production from coal to gas …is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”

JEOPARDY! should stay away from politically charged questions and just stick to the facts. That would be muy bueno.

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