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Special Report: Millions of abandoned oil wells are leaking methane

Leaks from abandoned wells have long been recognized as an environmental problem, a health hazard, and a public nuisance. They have been linked to dozens of instances of groundwater contamination by research commissioned by the Groundwater Protection Council, whose members include state groundwater agencies. Orphaned wells have been blamed for a slew of public safety incidents over the years, including a methane blowout at the construction site of a waterfront hotel in California last year. They also pose a serious threat to the climate that researchers and world governments are only starting to understand, according to a Reuters review of government data and interviews with scientists, regulators, and United Nations officials. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year recommended that U.N. member countries start tracking and publishing the amount of methane leaching from their abandoned oil and gas wells after scientists started flagging it as a global warming risk. So far, the United States and Canada are the only nations to do so. Read more...

 

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