Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of drilling natural gas from shale formations. This technology is being used across the US and has contributed to a dramatic increase in the use of natural gas for electricity in recent decades. Natural gas is mostly methane. Methane is a flammable gas, carried through a network of pipelines and burned for energy and cooking.
Methane is an aggressive climate pollutant, with 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the short term.
Fracking, strictly speaking, describes breaking into shale formations—though we often use the term as shorthand for the entire process. Methane leaks are a problem through every single step of oil and gas development, from the moment the drill bit goes into the ground until the gas is delivered to your house. Methane is accidentally or purposely leaked and vented at many stages of natural gas extraction, transportation, and use, representing a major source of dangerous climate pollution in the US.
Other significant sources of methane emissions include cattle and landfills.
What can methane and fracking pollution do to you?
Although not harmful in and of itself, the release of methane into the atmosphere is polluting our climate and is creating a grave global public health threat. Reducing methane emissions is essential to fighting climate change—and safeguarding the health and future of our children.
Methane occurs in geologic formations right alongside other toxic volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and formaldehyde, which means that wherever methane is leaking or vented, you may be breathing potentially harmful air pollution. These pollutants can cause cancer and other health problems, as well as combine with heat and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, or smog, which is harmful to breathe.
Why moms are fighting methane emissions from fracking.
Fighting methane emissions from fracking is one of our most urgent campaigns. Methane emissions are a major source of harmful climate pollution, and the pollutants that accompany leaking methane pose major health risks.
We have national standards in place to begin to address the urgent problem of methane pollution from fracking (the Methane New Source Performance Standards). But the Trump administration is trying to make it easier for the oil and gas industry to spew climate-harming methane into the air. Moms are aggressively fighting this effort through testifying at hearings, submitting comments to the public docket, meeting with our lawmakers, and speaking to the media about the grave threats of methane pollution.
Moms Clean Air Force also supports state-based efforts to limit harmful methane pollution. If you live in a state where there is fracking, you can demand that your elected officials show leadership in reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Several states have started implementing mechanisms to reduce oil and gas pollution, including California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming. However, it is imperative that all states do much more to cut methane emissions.
Learn more about how methane pollution from fracking contributes to climate change and degrades our air quality by exploring our resources.