Methane is highly efficient at trapping heat, making it a powerful greenhouse gas — 84 times more powerful, on average, than carbon dioxide, in the first two decades after its release. Wherever methane escapes into the atmosphere from well pads, pipelines, and other fracking-related activities, that’s climate pollution.
Need any more reasons to plug the leaks?
Here are four. These air pollutants, potentially harmful for our families and communities, are emitted right alongside heat-trapping methane.
- BTEX, or benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Eyes, nose, mouth, and throat irritants. Asthma triggers. Associated with blood disorders, cancer, and harm to the developing fetus.
- Nitrogen oxides. Lung irritants and asthma triggers. Contribute to smog formation.
- Hydrogen sulfide. Toxic and explosive gas. Damages central nervous system. Can be fatal at high levels.
- Volatile organic compounds like BTEX combine with heat and sunlight in the atmosphere to form ground level ozone, or smog. Smog is a powerful lung irritant and asthma trigger that interferes with normal lung development.
Where natural gas is being drilled, compressed, and sent through pipelines, you can find methane leaking, along with these co-pollutants. Like many complex problems, contained within this polluting system is also tremendous opportunity: If we reduce methane leaks from natural gas operations, these dangerous pollutants will decline too.
Plug the leaks. Protect our health. Protect climate health.