Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fracking Colorado: Scientists find Front Range oil & gas fields emitting 3 times more methane than previously reported

WELD COUNTY, CO - APRIL 15: One of the many oil and gas derricks in Northern Colorado was photographed Tuesday evening, April 15, 2014. An area northeast of Denver holds between 3 billion to 5 billion barrels of untapped oil. Oil production in Colorado has set records Ñ 63 million barrels in 2013, up from 49 million in 2012. (Photo by Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)

Colorado is in the middle of a turf war - The battle between the people of Colorado versus Oil and Gas industry honchos, in state, plus Big Oil players (from Koch to Halliburton),  out to drill and frack every square inch of the state.

The battlelines are drawn and the fight against destruction is no longer just the Oil and Gas Association and its membership versus environmental activists - It has now gone mainstream and national as town and city folk, now seeing the damage done to once pristine lands, fight to ban fracking and drilling within their cities and towns.

Big Oil hates the people's self determination. In response to free thinking, they are pouring huge bucks into state and local elections, airing slick commercials, and supporting the "new grassroots" organizations - with names like Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), Fort Collins Alliance for Reliable Energy, Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition springing up like new derricks on the plains and in the foothills. All this in an attempt to beat back uppity citizens trying to take control of the destiny of the state.

Oil and Gas wells in NE quadrant of Colorado.  Denver  North to Ft Collins; Rockies going east to Kansas state line
Oil and Gas wells in NE quadrant of Colorado. Denver North to Ft Collins; Rockies going east to Kansas state line

Things are heating up this election year and the Oil and Gas industry is throwing fuel and funds to fan the flames.

But not so fast...

As reported, today, in The Denver Post, a new study conducted  by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and partly supported by the Environmental Defense Fund, using data collected in 2012 from aircraft flying over the drilling zones north of Denver, has found that the levels of methane (a  greenhouse gas) are three times that previously reported - 19.3 tons of methane is being pumped into the air each hour.
And it isn't just methane. They, also, found benzene (a cancer-causing chemical) and other "smog-forming volatile organic compounds" reaching levels up to seven times higher than government agencies had previously estimated.

From the article:
For years, CDPHE and EPA officials have estimated air pollution primarily by measuring ground-level sources. State agencies didn't begin monitoring methane until 2012.
The new study marks one of the first efforts to investigate pollution in the atmosphere above ground level. Petron led atmospheric scientists who used a small airplane in May 2012 to test air. Previously, Petron and colleagues have gathered air-pollution data using vehicles packed with instruments and a 985-foot tall tower east of Erie
Using the airplane, they found that oil and gas operations in Weld County emitted 19.3 tons of methane per hour — about 75 percent of total methane emissions in the area. That's about three times higher than an hourly average based on the EPA's annual estimates, which are drawn from industry-reported emissions. 
Petron and her team also measured benzene emissions from oil and gas operations at about 380 pounds per hour — nearly eight times higher than a CDPHE estimate of 50 pounds per hour. 
And they measured industry volatile organic compound emissions, which contribute to ozone pollution, at 25 tons per hour. That's nearly double the state estimate of 13.1 tons. For years, Colorado's Front Range has failed to meet federal ozone air quality standards.
More aerial testing is planned this summer in Colorado. The Environmental Defense Fund plans to support a similar study in Texas, EDF chief scientist Steven Hamburg said.
"These data show how very important Colorado's regulations are in ensuring we address climate change as effectively and quickly as possible," Hamburg said. "We need to minimize methane associated with production of oil and gas, and the amount of carbon dioxide coming out of smokestacks and tailpipes. That combination will be powerful in reducing the rate of warming."

As reported here, last year, Colorado is feeling the effects of the human destruction first hand,  After two years of firestorms followed by torrential rains and floods, the people seem to be awakening to the fact that we can no longer allow the fossil fuel industry to destroy our state; our nation; our planet.

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