Tell President Obama: Immediately stop fracking on public lands
A new must-read article by Bill McKibben details a recent Harvard study with an alarming result: Our transition under President Obama from coal power to methane fracking, aka “natural gas,” may have actually increased total U.S. global warming pollution — contrary to what the Obama administration has been telling us.1New revelations about fracking and methane — the potent global warming pollutant it unleashes from below ground — are raising alarm bells that call into question the heart of President Obama’s entire energy policy.
On top of that, a new study by Stanford University of the polluted water of Pavillion, Wyoming has found what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has seemingly been too scared to admit — fracking can pollute water.2
Fracking poses an immediate, unacceptable risk to our water and our security on this rapidly heating planet. President Obama controls fossil fuel extraction on federal lands — he needs to take action. Now.
What is perhaps most alarming is the degree to which the Obama administration has been either asleep at the switch, or too timid to stand up to industry when it comes to fracking.
The EPA has been dramatically underestimating both the potency of methane — it traps heat in our atmosphere at 86 to 105 times the rate of carbon pollution over a 10 to 20 year period — and the rate that this methane was leaking from fracking infrastructure unburned.
If just 3 percent of fracked methane escapes, fracked gas is worse for global warming than burning coal. But in fact, methane leakage may be two or three times higher than that. That makes the fracking boom a jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Or as McKibben writes: “We closed coal plants and opened methane leaks, and the result is that things have gotten worse.”
The Obama administration has begun to correct for its catastrophic rounding error on fracking, revising its methane calculations and moving ahead with some regulations to limit methane emissions. Meanwhile, the EPA is taking comments on its controversial draft water study that downplayed fracking’s ability to contaminate water.3
Dick Cheney’s Halliburton loophole in his 2005 energy bill exempted the EPA from regulating fracking under the Clean Water Act, but federal lands remain under President Obama’s control.
And our pressure on public lands is having an impact. President Obama cancelled his plans to drill offshore in the Atlantic, has delayed Arctic drilling until 2020, and in January, the Department of Interior announced a three year moratorium on new coal leasing — though it is allowing current coal mining to continue.
U.S. methane emissions have spiked 30 percent since 2002, as scientists have been alarmed at the increasing rates of global warming and the melting of the poles. We don’t have time to wait for regulations to kick in that may reduce some methane leakage or prevent some water from being contaminated.
President Obama’s promotion of fracking is leading us disastrously off-course. President Obama needs to take immediate action to make his pro-fracking policies a temporary detour, not a permanent trip off the fracking cliff.
Thank you for fighting fracking.
Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns
CREDO Action from Working Assets