Natural Gas Leaks Across the U.S.
What is a Natural Gas Leak?
A natural gas leak occurs when natural gas escapes from a natural gas storage facility. Methane, the main component of natural gas, spews out of these facilities into the atmosphere1. Methane is not only dangerous to the environment but also to living organisms2.
Natural gas is stored in facilities around the country to provide us with energy. Natural gas is quickly becoming an extremely prominent source of energy in the US. Natural Gas can also escpae into the atmosphere through natural sources9.
Why Are Natural Gas Leaks So Dangerous?
Methane can cause short-term health effects to humans, including, dizziness, headaches and vomiting3. Although no long-term effects have been observed, the short-term effects can be severe. Residents in areas of a gas leak often must be displaced1.
Methane has also been rumored to affect domestic animals, causing nosebleeds and shortness of breath. Residents in areas with gas leaks have observed animals falling ill and even dying4. However, little scientifically is known on what effect methane has on domestic animals.
The main concern of methane is the long-term effect this gas has on the environment. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is an extremely significant contributor to climate change5. Scientists estimate that methane warms the earth at 84 times the rate of carbon dioxide6.
Where in the U.S. Are These Leaks Happening?
The most recent Natural Gas leak has occurred in Porter Ranch, California7. The leak, caused by Southern California Gas Company, has been occurring since October 23rd 8. The California governor has declared a state of emergency, and 2,200 households have been displaced9.
The October 23rd leak is the largest natural gas leak in California’s history10. Stopping the leak has proved to be tricky, and could take up to four months6. The leak is coming from a mile and a half underground, making it a tough fix8.
However, California residents aren’t the only ones who will feel the effects. The leak’s impact on global warming is comparable to driving 4.5 million cars a day5. Environmental scientists communicate that this leak will affect everyone across the globe as temperatures rise.
Without a solution, 110,000 pounds of methane will continue to leak into the atmosphere hourly9. The leak negates California’s ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in coming years6. Estimates predict this leak has the same environmental effect as do six coal-fired plants daily5.
These leaks aren’t limited to California or even the United States. Leaks are prevalent all across the globe, some leaks more serious than others. A leak in Venezuela spewed 10 times the amount of methane as the California leak1.
To slow climate change, natural gas leaks around the world must be reduced.
- “Shocking study shows how much methane leaked globally”, January 18, 2016, The Weather Network
- “California Natural Gas Leak is Just One of Thousands Across the Country” January 18, 2016, PBS Newshour
- “California Governor Declares Emergency Over Porter Ranch Gas Leak” January 7, 2016, CNN
- “Natural Gas Leak Near Los Angeles May Be Sickening To Animals” January 18, San Jose Mercury News
- “This is How Much the California Gas Leak is Hurting The Planet”, January 14, 2016, Time Magazine
- “Dangerous Methane Leak Requires Emergency Measures”, January 7, 2016, Scientific American
- “Huge California Gas Leak Will Come to an End In February, Utility Says” January 19, 2016, Huffington Post
- “Stopping Natural Gas Leak Near Los Angeles is a Complex Fix” January 9, 2016, The ABC News
- “Thousands Sickened, Toxic Gas Leak Containment Plans Delayed” January 17, 2016, The Weather Network
- “California Residents Vent Frustrations over State’s Biggest Gas Leak” January 16, 2016, Yahoo News