Fracking is disastrous for climate change. Drilling and fracking release and leak tremendous amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a type carbon and it’s 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over 20 years and 34 times more potent over 100 years.
Unfortunately, at a time when we must leave most fossil fuels in the ground, the oil and gas industry and complicit politicians have touted natural gas from fracking as a bridge or transition to renewables. This is not true. Fracking and its infrastructure, often decades-long commitments to new and more extreme fossil fuels, will only lead to climate catastrophe. While science is still answering the question of whether natural gas from fracking or coal is worse for the climate, it is clear that both are terrible and we need to leave both in the ground and swiftly advance renewable energy solutions.
In their comprehensive Compendium of the scientific evidence, the experts organizations Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York summarized the threat to the climate system:
“Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. An increasing number of studies reveal high levels of methane leaks from gas drilling, fracking, storage, and transportation, undermining the notion that natural gas is a climate solution or a transition fuel…Multiple lines of evidence point to the central role of unconventional oil and gas extraction as the driver of recent increases in global greenhouse gases, especially methane. These include the atmospheric pattern of increased methane concentrations directly over intensively fracked areas of the United States; sharp upticks in global methane and co-occurring ethane levels that correspond to the onset of the U.S. fracking boom; and documentation of catastrophic amounts of methane released from storage facilities and other “super-emitting” sites…Drilling, fracking, and expanded use of natural gas threaten not only to exacerbate climate change but also to stifle investments in, and expansion of, renewable energy.”