To the Editor:
ProPublica investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, who spoke at Ohio University last week, has played an important role in exposing the high rates of water contamination from fracking and associated injection wells. However, neither he nor the local news media covering his Athens visit adequately addressed the climate implications of fracking. Recent U.S. EPA reports that put U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas second only to coal actually underestimated the emissions from oil and gas by using outdated numbers on methane's contribution to global warming.
According to the latest science, methane is 105 times more powerful than CO2 in its global warming potential (gwp) at the 20-year time frame. With the climate tipping point likely less than 20 years, the 20-year time frame is clearly the one that must be used. Recent NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) data reveal methane leakage from frack wells alone is 9 percent of methane captured. This figure does not include methane leakage from pipelines or the significant lifecycle emissions of CO2 from fracking, including from diesel compressors, 500-1,000 long-distance truck trips per frack, and pipelines, which are increasing dramatically and threatening vast areas both of forests and communities. Deforestation and soil disturbance create both high losses in carbon sequestration potential and high emissions of CO2 for decades following disturbance.
Fracking is not only poisoning air and water (contrary to your Lustgarten headline) and killing people, livestock and local economies, but it will also destroy our climate. Visit acfan.org for up-to-date news and science links. And speak out to your elected officials and the media, which so often misrepresent this urgent issue.