Natural gas competes for scarce water resources

Like most colleges and many businesses and institutions, Vassar has been reporting reduced greenhouse gas emissions following our transition from heating oil to natural gas. Our Central Hudson electric grid also calculates reduced GHG emissions with its transition to gas power production. Starting last December, Cornell University finally started leading the way in recalculating emissions with accounting for fugitive gas. (Cornell’s whole climate action plan is worth examining.)

Now, reports are appearing on increasing water consumption by fracking operations (summarized here and here). Especially critical: untreatable contaminated water is injected into deep wells, effectively removing it from circulation and future use (and causing earthquakes in fracking regions). A new study from Duke University projects dramatic increases in water consumption in water-stressed regions in the coming decade. New York State has banned fracking, now isn’t it time we reduced our consumption of fracked gas from other states?

map of earthquakes and injection wells

Injection wells (blue) and earthquakes (orange) in water-stressed central Oklahoma; source OK Geological Survey

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