September 9, 2016
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the practice of pumping material underground
for the sake of breaking rock apart, releasing gas in the process. According to a peer-reviewed study,
methane emissions from North Texas' Barnett Shale, a fracking user, are 90% higher than had been
initially estimated by the government. Methane is a natural gas which, if not treated properly, could
leak out and absorb the heat from the sun, warming the atmosphere as a result. It's a greenhouse gas
which is like carbon dioxide, but 84 times more potent than that gas. Since 2006, which is around the
same year the U.S. began to use fracking, methane has been rising steadily.
NASA supports the idea of fracking having something to do with methane emissions by
expressing that, through the use of one of their satellites, they had discovered that the U.S. has
particularly large concentration of methane. Just 10% of the individual methane sources related to
fracking alone had made up a good portion of these emissions. May Boeve, an executive director at
350.org, probably summed it up best when she said fossil fuels should be kept in the ground for the
sake of protecting people from bad climate change.
The arguments which reject the supposed connection between fracking and methane emissions
include a study by the NOAA in which the emissions are credited to agriculture and wetlands. They cite business involving livestock and rice in Asian countries as ones who are responsible for the methane
emissions and that the U.S. doesn't have much to with such matters. Isaac Orr from spectator.org
essentially makes out the emissions to not be a big deal, as they tend to be low and repair is done easily
in a quick manner. He also points out that studies conducted over multiple U.S. states emitting methane
were found to be low. He ultimately discredits those studies and the overall point he attempts to get
across is that more studies should be accompanied by credible data.
K. J. Rodgers from naturalgasnow.org went on to say that the argument regarding productions
involving the emission of gas and oil is flawed, going so far as propose it is being used for “no fracking
agendas.” He even denies the idea that the fracking industry need more regulations, because it's already
the most regulated. He finishes by mentioning that natural gas emits less than coal, further supporting
his idea that the additional regulations have no impact.
Brown, K. (2016, March 11). New NOAA Study Undercuts EPA, Finds Fracking Not to Blame for
Increased Methane Emissions. Retrieved from https://energyindepth.org/national/new-nasa-
Hamburg, S. Methane: The other important greenhouse gas. Retrieved from https://www.edf.org/methane-other-important-greenhouse-gas
McCauley, L. (2016, August 16). NASA Study Nails Fracking as Source of Massive Methane 'Hot
Spot'. Retrieved from http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/16/nasa-study-nails-
Orr, I. (2016, September 13). Methane From Fracking: Not the Monster Bill McKibben Sniffs Out.
Retrieved from http://spectator.org/methane-from-fracking-not-the-monster-bill-mckibben-
Propublica. What Is Hydraulic Fracturing? Retrieved from
Rodgers, K. (2016, March 19). Fracking Isn’t Increasing Methane and the Earth is Still Round.
Retrieved from http://naturalgasnow.org/fracking-isnt-increasing-methane-earth-still-round/
Song, L. (2015, December 7). Texas Fracking Zone Emits 90% More Methane Than EPA Estimated.
Retrieved from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07122015/methane-emissions-texas-