The natural gas industry has relentlessly pushed the idea that extracting and burning natural gas is the “bridge” to a renewable energy future. If one were to believe their rhetoric about the 100-year supply and the safety of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas, it would sound like a very logical solution. One of the bedrocks of their argument is that when natural gas is burned it emits half of the carbon dioxide of coal. That is true, but unfortunately, that is only a small part of the story.
The complete picture is that methane, the primary component of natural gas is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and the methane that leaks during the fracking process from wells, pipelines, compressors and processing units eviscerates this advantage. There is uncertainty over the rate at which methane leaks into the atmosphere, but there is no uncertainty of the damage it is doing. Recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production.
For more information about the many, many things that are wrong with fracking, please review the extensive information in our fracking section on this website.