A study of derelict Pennsylvania oil and gas wells has spotted what is possibly a huge source of additional greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane, which is pound-for-pound a much more potent climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide, could be leaking from hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells. And that’s just in the Keystone State. A growing body of evidence says countless old wells across the country — most poorly monitored — could be belching up the same dangerous emissions.
The study by Mary Kang of Princeton University measured 19 abandoned oil and gas wells and found all of them were leaking various amounts of methane. Extrapolated across a state where there may be as many as 970,000 such wells, the leaks could account for between 4 and 13 percent of anthropogenic methane released in the state.