Tuesday, April 28, 2015

30,000 square kilometers of U.S. land have been taken over by oil and gas development

Oil and gas drilling operations in the U.S. take up 30,000 square kilometers of land, says a study by University of Montana researchers published last week in Science. While the authors admit the benefits of oil and gas, they say "the well sites are rarely remediated and replanted, and so the cumulative impact could begin to take its toll through the degradation of animal habitats and the loss of plants, which sop up carbon dioxide," Eric Hand reports for Science. (University of Montana graphic: The oil and gas industry has drilled more than 2 million wells since 1900. The displaced productivity of well sites amid croplands (red) is higher than those in rangelands (green)).

"Researchers found that, since 1900, more than 2 million wells have been drilled, and most of that has happened in two spurts—one beginning in the mid-1970s with the OPEC oil embargo, and the other beginning in 2000 with the advent of directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other techniques that make it easier to extract oil and gas from tight rock formations," Hand writes. "In the last decade, they found, industry has been sinking more than 50,000 wells a year." Study co-author Steven Running told Hand, “Whenever we tell people there are 50,000 wells being drilled per year, they think we’re crazy. Nobody has any idea of the magnitude of this.” 

Hand writes, "Researchers combined the well locations with satellite imagery to arrive at estimates of the plant productivity lost when the dirt and gravel of a graded site replaces cropland or rangeland. The amount of lost biomass in croplands alone is equivalent to 120 million bushels of wheat—or 13 percent of what the United States exported in 2013, the team reports." (Read more)

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Very Good!