Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein Says Rising Methane Emissions in US Predictable Outcome of Fracking, Calls for Fracking Ban and 100% Clean Renewable Energy By 2030

Responding to the news that scientists have found a surge in emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from the United States, Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein stated, “The methane surge shows that fracking isn’t just a dire threat to our health and drinking water. It’s far worse for our climate than the industry will admit.”

Scientists at Harvard University have detected a large increase in global methane emissions over the past decade, with the United States responsible for as much as 60% of the emissions growth. Methane has 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period.

“Now that we’ve just experienced the worst methane leak in US history in California, it’s past time to end fracking’s threat to our health and our environment,” said Stein.

In February, Southern California Gas finally plugged the Porter Ranch methane leak, the largest in US history, after a delay of four months. The leak pumped carbon pollution and toxins into the atmosphere equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from 440,000 cars, sickening local residents and forcing the evacuation of thousands.

Fracked gas wells in Texas emit even more methane than the Porter Ranch leak. While at its peak the California leak spewed 58,000 kilograms of natural gas per hour, some 60,000 kilograms escape every hour from the 25,000 wells in the Barnett Shale.

“In the real world, wells leak and pipelines spill,” said Stein. “The supposed climate benefits of burning natural gas are being revealed as nothing more than greenwashing by the fossil fuel industry. The fact that business-as-usual causes more pollution than the worst leak in US history is just one more reason we need to stop fracking now.”

Failures of natural gas distribution pipes -- those that bring gas into homes and business -- have killed 120 people and injured more than 500 since 2004. America’s 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipes are decrepit and prone to leaks and explosions; more than half are at least fifty years old. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration -- an agency chronically short of inspectors -- inspects just seven percent of pipelines annually. 

The new methane findings follow a NASA report that January 2016 was the warmest January on record by far, following a record-setting 2015.

“The dangerous state of our natural gas infrastructure and rapidly accelerating climate meltdown are urgent wake up calls for the country,” said Dr. Jill Stein. “We must ban fracking and move away from natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear power as quickly as possible to ensure a livable world for present and future generations. My Green New Deal will accomplish this by putting millions of Americans to work in an emergency transition to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.”

BACKGROUND:

Scientists at Harvard University have detected a surge in global methane emissions over the past decade, with the United States responsible for as much as 60% of the emissions growth. Methane has 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period. The US itself experienced a 30% increase in methane emissions over the same period. These findings, and those of related studies, show significantly higher methane emissions than those estimated by the EPA. The oil and gas industry may emit nearly five times the methane previously estimated. Methane emissions from factory farms are twice previous estimates. “We cannot trust EPA’s methane numbers given recent research that consistently finds emissions considerably higher,” said Rensselaer environmental studies professor Steve Breyman.

In February Southern California Gas finally plugged the Porter Ranch methane leak, the worst in US history, after an unconscionable delay of four months. The leak pumped carbon pollution and toxins into the atmosphere equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from 440,000 cars, sickening local residents and forcing the evacuation of thousands. The underground storage facility is but one of four hundred around the country. The company failed to replace a subsurface safety valve removed in 1979; the pipe that leaked was 61 years old. 

The Porter Ranch disaster is only the tip of the methane leak iceberg. Failures of natural gas distribution pipes -- those that bring gas into homes and business -- have killed 120 people and injured more than 500 since 2004. America’s 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipes are decrepit and prone to leaks and explosions; more than half are at least fifty years old. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration -- an agency chronically short of inspectors -- inspects just seven percent of pipelines annually. 

Fracked gas wells in Texas emit even more methane than the Porter Ranch leak. While at its peak the California leak spewed 58,000 kilograms of natural gas per hour, some 60,000 kilograms escape every hour from the 25,000 wells in the Barnett Shale.

NASA reported that January 2016 was the warmest January on record by far. The past three months were the hottest three-month period ever (following a record-setting 2015).