Gas Well Emissions Raise Concern | Green Arkansas

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gas Well Emissions Raise Concern

Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 7:00 PM

The Fort Worth Star Telegram had a great piece this weekend on natural gas drilling's impact on our air. 

Researchers are only beginning to wrap their hands around the issue, but the early findings indicate that natural gas production is a significant part of North Texas’ air pollution problem. And it could be growing. At the least, it’s worth studying to determine the scope of the problem, the researchers said.

There has been extensive research on emissions from cars and trucks, which account for much of the air pollution in North Texas. There’s also been research into pollution from electric and cement plants.

"All those other sources have seen a lot of regulation," said Al Armendariz, an engineering professor at Southern Methodist University who has studied air quality issues for several years. "The oil and gas sector kind of snuck by."

Some other highlights:

  • Methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, is also one of the gases linked to global warming. Scientists theorize that methane, carbon dioxide and other gases have formed a layer around the Earth’s atmosphere that traps heat and has contributed to the rise in world temperatures.

    The EPA lists natural gas systems — from production to distribution — as the second-leading cause of methane emissions and has started a voluntary program to encourage producers to reduce what they release.
  • "From an air pollution standpoint, the problem has been that the oil and gas industry consists of many, many small sources that are individually small yet collectively add up to large sources of air pollution," said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for Denver-based WildEarth Guardians.
  • The study also found unsafe levels of benzene and other chemicals linked to cancer. However, there’s not enough information to show whether cancer or other illnesses have increased. And it’s not clear how prevalent the chemical levels are.

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