Cornell University

September 17, 2013

Bombshell Study Confirms Low Methane Leakage from Shale Gas

Source:, September 16, 2013
By: Steve Everley

For years, critics of hydraulic fracturing have alleged that “methane leaks” from development are not only astronomically high, but also make natural gas from shale a climate “disaster” and “gang-plank.” But a new, highly anticipated report from the University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund might put that theory to rest – at last, and for good.

The UT-EDF study released today looked at 190 onshore natural gas production sites in the United States. During completion activities (including hydraulic fracturing), the authors found that emissions were “nearly 50 times lower than previously estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency.” Based on its findings, the researchers estimate that total annual methane emissions are “comparable” to EPA’s estimates.

The UT-EDF study’s findings (along with data from the latest EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory) suggest a leakage rate of only about 1.5 percent, if not less than that. That rate is comfortably below the threshold required for shale to maintain its obvious and significant climate benefits.


In 2011, a few activist-researchers from Cornell University (Howarth, Ingraffea, et. al.) released a study purporting to show high levels of methane “leakage” from natural gas systems, including wells that had been hydraulically fractured. The Cornell study suggested as much as 7.9 percent of natural gas developed from shale was leaking into the atmosphere.…

April 24, 2013

Fracking for Natural Gas Fuels Health Worries

Source:, April 22, 2013
By: Molly M. Ginty

The boom in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas raises medical worries for a number of female health activists and researchers. “We need comprehensive studies to assess long-term problems,” says public health professor Madelon Finkel.

Creeping over the darkened hills of Concord Township, Ohio, past oak and maple trees and through an open window, the intruder entered Kari Matsko’s home without a sound.

“It was only when I woke the next morning that I realized something had changed,” says Matsko. “I had unexplained muscle spasms and terrible neck pain. I saw three doctors, and spent four months recovering. Then a neighbor told me about the 3 a.m. hydrogen sulfide gas leak from a nearby fracking operation that sent her whole family to the emergency room with aches and pains the same day I got sick in 2006.”

Now heading a grassroots group called The People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative of Ohio, Matsko is among the growing number of women who are fighting health problems associated with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a drilling process that harvests natural gas from rock.

“When I found out why I fell ill, I thought ‘How could residents not be notified there was fracking nearby? How could this even be legal?'” says Matsko. “Because oversight is lax and studies are sparse, I’m still asking the same questions today.”…

April 11, 2013

Revisiting the Facts on Fracking

Source: The New York Times, April 9, 2013

In their op-ed “The Facts on Fracking” (Views, March 14), Susan Brantley and Anna Meyendorff use a highly speculative estimate of the gas supply in the Marcellus shale of Eastern America that prevailed for years at the U.S. Energy Department. Using actual results from drilled wells, in 2011 U.S. government geologists slashed the Energy Department figures by about two-thirds.

The writers’ more troubling claim is a well failure rate of “1 to 2 percent.” Last fall, researchers at Cornell University compiled data from Pennsylvania regulators’ reports to confirm failure rates due to faulty cement and/or casing of 6 to 8.9 percent each year since 2010. These were wells just completed, from which methane could migrate into the atmosphere as a green-house gas or contaminate aquifers.

Methane in aquifers has found its way into homes via water wells. Many American families have seen their property values vaporize and their homes rendered unlivable. Drilling companies have settled numerous lawsuits.

Earlier industry studies suggest that over time, cement or casing in half the wells drilled may eventually fail. While calamities from leaky wells are unusual — small comfort if it affects your drinking water, or the water in your favorite stream — let us recognize the magnitude of risk: More than 6,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, with 100,000 planned. A dozen states have industrial drilling.

Paul Roberts Friendsville, Maryland

Winemaker and citizen representative on a state commission studying shale gas development in Maryland.…