Can Fracking Be Green?

by Patrick Appel

Fracking Leaks

Brad Plumer captions the above chart, from a World Resources Institute report on fracking:

What does this chart show? The red line is WRI’s best current estimate of greenhouse-gas emissions (including methane) from all natural gas activities. The blue line shows WRI’s estimate of future emissions after recently proposed air-pollution regulations at fracking wells take effect. (The steps that drillers will have to take to reduce volatile organic compounds from these wells will also curb methane leaks.)

The purple line, meanwhile, shows estimated future emissions if the EPA and state agencies required just three new technologies throughout the natural-gas infrastructure: plunger lift systems, leak detection and repair, and low-bleed pneumatic devices. And, with an additional five technologies, the country could get down below hoped-for 1 percent methane leakage rate. That’s the green line.