Maintenance, Malpractice, and Methane

Although practices to curb methane emissions are commonly mentioned as the most effective method of reducing the gas’ greenhouse effects, there is much to say about caution when it comes to working around underground sources. Ignorance and lack of maintenance are just as responsible for man-made methane problems as over-mining and poor control.

Roger Douin states that over “forty separate types of equipment” and their malfunctions are responsible for leaks in the fracking process, and that their innate flaws and wear over time poses a significant problem. Although the EPA has pledged to seek out these problems and create strict regulations, these problems are still inherent in the fracking process.

The most important (or least, considering the ultimate price to be paid) reason for lack of proper regulation of this equipment and strict enforcement of its design and maintenance is the cost in regard to these proceedings. One could simply this summarize this as human greed trumping over looking towards the future. There is less incentive for the industry — particularly smaller, cash-constrained companies — to make fixes that require more personnel, time, and money, yielding a lower return-on-investment.  A device that could help prevent leaks, called a “vapor recovery unit”, carries a price tag of of $100,000, making this a poor prospect for one seeking maximum profit. These units can capture up to 95% of vapors that are vented from tanks, which makes them a necessity for eco-friendly fracking and storage, expensive as they may be.

In conclusion, the importance of safe practices must be emphasized in the hopes of curbing these “accidental” emissions and promote an ecologically sound method that does not pose a threat to our way of life in the future. As far as methane emissions go, these are at the forefront of those that can be prevented, and with a viable solution to boot.

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