The state of California determined that fracking can have “significant and unavoidable” impacts on air quality, including driving pollutants above levels that violate air quality standards. Similarly, in northeastern Colorado, ambient levels of atmospheric hydrocarbons continued to increase even with tighter emission standards.
Wells leak methane – a potent greenhouse gas, over 80 times stronger than CO2 over a 25 year period.
Well sites leak far more methane and toxic vapors than previously understood, and they continue to leak long after they are decommissioned. Abandoned wells are a significant source of methane leakage into the atmosphere, and, based on findings from New York and Pennsylvania, may exceed cumulative total leakage from oil and gas wells currently in production. Plugging abandoned wells does not always reduce methane emissions, and cement plugs themselves deteriorate over time. Further, many abandoned wells are unmapped and their locations unknown. No state or federal agency routinely monitors methane leakage from abandoned wells.