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Sat May 7, 2016, 05:14 AM

The U.S. oil and gas boom is having global atmospheric consequences, scientists suggest

Scientists say they have made a startling discovery about the link between domestic oil and gas development and the world’s levels of atmospheric ethane — a carbon compound that can both damage air quality and contribute to climate change. A new study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters has revealed that the Bakken Shale formation, a region of intensely increasing recent oil production centered in North Dakota and Montana, accounts for about 2 percent of the entire world’s ethane output — and, in fact, may be partly responsible for reversing a decades-long decline in global ethane emissions.

The findings are important for several reasons. First, ethane output can play a big role in local air quality — when it is released into the atmosphere, it interacts with hydrogen and carbon and can cause ozone to form close to the Earth, where it is considered a pollutant that can irritate or damage the lungs.

Ethane is also technically a greenhouse gas, although its lifetime is so short that it is not considered a primary threat to the climate. That said, its presence can help extend the lifespan of methane — a more potent greenhouse gas — in the atmosphere. This, coupled with ethane’s role in the formation of ozone, makes it a significant environmental concern.

From 1987 until about 2009, scientists observed a decreasing trend in global ethane emissions, from 14.3 million metric tons per year to 11.3 million metric tons. But starting in 2009 or 2010, ethane emissions starting rising again — and scientists began to suspect that an increase in shale oil and gas production in the United States was at least partly to blame. The new study’s findings suggest that this may be the case.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/28/the-u-s-oil-and-gas-boom-is-having-global-atmospheric-consequences-scientists-suggest/

Advances in hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling have unlocked huge amounts of petroleum in the Badlands of Montana. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Reply The U.S. oil and gas boom is having global atmospheric consequences, scientists suggest (Original post)
Rhiannon12866 May 2016 OP
NickB79 May 2016 #1

Response to Rhiannon12866 (Original post)

Sat May 7, 2016, 09:41 AM

1. But domestic natural gas is a bridge to a cleaner energy future!

You mean, the fossil fuel industry LIED to us all this time?!?!

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