“Fracking,” a dangerous drilling technique used to extract natural gas, is taking the industry by storm. Yet a mountain of growing evidence, cemented in the final quarter of 2011 by a report by the EPA, shows fracking has in fact polluted drinking in local communities. Fortunately, the reality of the harmful effects on our own health and ecosystems is coming to light on a national stage.
This year, ProPublica ran a year-long series on the dangerous consequences to Americans health and environment. An interesting point one of these articles raised was the impact of air pollution also associated with fracking.
While water pollution is one concern, many of the health effects reported are believed to be related to air pollution and emissions released in the natural gas development and drilling process.
Earlier in the year, a ProPublica investigation found that the EPA had grossly underestimated the amount of methane that seeps out of pipelines and drill rigs as gas is produced, and reported that the agency was doubling its calculations. Our analysis of the new emissions levels showed that they threaten to offset the relative advantages presented by cleaner-burning natural gas over oil and carbon in combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions.