Warning for BC: Methane Emissions Still Increasing in Big US Shale Play

By Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee

Despite a major downturn in drilling activity, levels of methane, one of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases, have been steadily increasing over Pennsylvania’s unconventional shale gas reserves. A new study by researchers at Drexel University found that levels of methane in the atmosphere in rural parts of the state were 125 parts per billion greater in 2015 than when first measured three years ago. Initial measurements taken in 2012 showed methane levels at 1,960 parts per billion, or approximately 50 parts per billion higher than would be expected in a rural area without “unconventional” shale gas extraction. Three years later, that concentration jumped another 125 parts per billion. Although gas production increased dramatically during that time period, the number of new wells being fracked and drilled near Pennsylvania in what’s known as the Marcellus Formation steadily declined. The Marcellus, which provides nearly 20 per cent of U.S. gas supply,...

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