What the AP fails to mention about escaped Colorado methane

“Natural gas found in western Colorado home, water well,” reads the title of an Associated Press news bulletin.

“State officials say natural gas has been found in a home and an abandoned water well in the western Colorado town of De Beque,” reads the story. “Lack of smell implies that the gas found in the water well is bubbling up out of the ground. It is not yet another manifestation of the neglected gas distribution system.”

Officials say tests show the gas doesn’t contain mercaptan, a compound added during the refining process to give gas a recognizable odor.

The Associated Press fails to mention that gas bubbling up out of nowhere is  a well-known side effect of fracking, the process of using pressurized water to open up cracks in mile-deep shale formations. The cracks allow the shale gas to flow to wellheads, but it is virtually impossible to control how underground cracks propagate.  The end result is methane release at random places at the surface.

It does not come as a surprise that De Beque is in the Piceance Basin in Western Colorado, a region of interest to Mercator Energy, a company with a long history of covering up the dangers of fracking.

As this confidential Mercator Energy document—Piceance-Basin-to-Pacific-Rim—states:

Emerging world demand for liquefied natural gas may likewise increase demand and create new markets for western Colorado Piceance Basin production.

The reference to world demand puts this abandoned water well in De Beque right smack in the middle of the federal energy policy. Indeed, in April of 2016, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill “taylored to a modern energy landscape” and designed, among other things, to expedite the export of  domestically produced fracked gas.  The senate bill passed 85-12 and with support of  Rhode Island U.S. Senators Reed and Whitehouse.

For a systematic study of the impact of oil and gas drilling in North America follow this link.  Meanwhile, this picture shows what a “modern energy landscape” looks like:

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Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just and peaceful, sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and his children and grandchildren in particular.

One response to “What the AP fails to mention about escaped Colorado methane”

  1. Greg Gerritt

    You can see this energy disaster landscape as you fly across the country.

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