For the past year I have been travelling the country exposing otherwise invisible air pollution from fracking and fracking-related development. In 2014, Earthworks was able to buy a FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) Gasfinder 320 camera thanks to the generous support of our members and donors. This camera is the gold-standard of oil and gas pollution detection. Industry and government alike use the same model camera and have the same certification I do to operate it. The camera detects methane and about 20 different volatile organic compounds that are health-harming and climate polluting.
Pennsylvania officials often boast about having the second highest natural gas producing state in the nation, usually while playing up purported economic benefits and downplaying documented environmental impacts. But this week, the ranking was invoked as the reason to stem pollution caused by oil and gas operations.
Governor Wolf's Administration announced a new plan to o reduce methane pollution from fracking and fracking-related development, including gas wells and processing and transmission facilities. At 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time period, methane—the primary component of natural gas—is a major driver of climate change. In 2014, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas producers reported wasting nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane, or enough natural gas to heat nearly 65,000 homes.
Last August, Earthworks purchased a FLIR Gasfinder camera to make invisible air pollution from the oil and gas industry visible. Since then, we’ve traveled the country exposing the pollution and demanding action from industry and regulators.
There are many ways to measure success: families helped, air cleaned, industries fined, but this week we found yet another -- FLIR cameras purchased.