Despite the fact that the United States is the only developed nation in the world to reduce carbon emissions, activist groups such as Lock the Gate relish any opportunity to push out anti-fracking “information”.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency methane emissions in the United States decreased by 16 per cent between 1990 and 2015.
“During this time period, emissions increased from sources associated with agricultural activities, while emissions decreased from sources associated with landfills, coal mining, and the exploration through distribution of natural gas and petroleum products.”
Lock the Gate’s recent push to cross-promote an episode of the National Geographic climate change series Years of Living Dangerously that plays up — to an unintentionally comical degree — the debunked notion that methane leaks are wiping out all of natural gas’ obvious climate benefits.
In a three-minute teaser video for the soon-to-be-aired Chasing Methane episode, former New York Times food and cooking reporter Mark Bittman and a familiar cast of activists make increasingly absurd and inaccurate claims about methane leaks from natural gas development.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist and noted methane emission exaggerator Gaby Petron claims to have found that methane leakage rates are at four per cent in Colorado.
The fact that Petron — whose past claims of elevated methane leakage have been criticised by EID, Environmental Defense Fund and others — based her data on readings taken from a device attached to her van (her van!) is never called into question.
Refuting what this Years of Living Dangerously episode claims, here is a rundown of the most prominent scientific evidence showing that methane leakage rates from natural gas production are low and well below the threshold for natural gas to maintain its climate benefits.
Using the US natural gas experience for an Australian context isn’t uncommon – the natural gas industry often uses it to showcase a range of technological advances and environmental outcomes.
Activist fear campaigns are often cyclical in nature, using the same playbook to replay the same claims used in more prolific development areas such as the United States. Activists are using the same unfounded theories, claims and mistruths to generate uncertainty and fear closer to home.
Studies by reputable scientific organisations in Australia and New Zealand have addressed these issues from a number of angles, as we have reported previously.
The methane debate has been debunked on multiple occasions here in Australia – much like it continues to be done in the US by a range of industry experts.