Fracking is Accelerating the Climate Crisis

Hydraulic fracking site in Colorado.

Hydraulic fracking site in Colorado.

By: Anna Henry, NC WARN Paralegal and Lead Researcher

As an unprecedented three-year global heatwave continues and weather extremes devastate communities, leading scientists are saying that the recent fracking boom has accelerated the climate crisis at the worst possible time.

Large amounts of natural gas – which is mostly methane – are being vented and leaked into the air throughout the natural gas production process, with emissions measured at rates of up to 12% of the total gas produced by wells drilled by fracking.

Methane – a greenhouse gas 80 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere – is now the greatest driver of global warming. Such high emissions rates and methane’s super potency make burning natural gas for electricity even worse for the climate than coal.

Since 67% of natural gas in the US comes from fracking, reducing methane emissions from fracked gas production is critical to averting runaway climate change. Such reductions can be achieved quickly and cost-effectively while creating thousands of jobs, but the gas and power industries have been dragging their feet and fighting effective regulation.

Fracking causes many negative impacts to frontline communities beyond contributing to climate change, including harm to air and water quality, risk of explosions, and increased earthquakes. People across the US are already being harmed by this dangerous practice. Furthermore, investments in fracking gas infrastructure will only slow the adoption of real climate solutions. So, while reducing methane emissions is urgent, the total phase-out of fracking in favor of cheaper, clean energy is also imperative.

NC WARN and allies are working hard to educate the public about the impacts of a fracked gas future and stop the North Carolina electric power industry’s rush to gas. We hope that our efforts at the state level can be duplicated in other states by groups that understand the connection between fracking and the climate crisis and want to take action.

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