A New Study Shows that the Oil and Gas Industry is Wasting a Shocking Quantity of Natural Gas in Texas

A new study by researchers at the University of South California and San Francisco State University found that oil and gas operators in South Texas burned almost 160 billion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to power 2.5 million homes for a year — from 2012 to 2016.

The study, published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, looked at 49 rural Texas counties that are part of or adjacent to the Eagle Ford Shale and identified almost 44,000 oil and gas flares, combustion stacks that burn off natural gas. The researchers found that just five counties — Dimmit, La Salle, McMullen, Karnes and DeWitt — accounted for about 70 percent of the flaring, and the vast majority of flares were at oil-producing fracking sites.


Flares release a slew of harmful pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, sulphur oxides, heavy metals and black carbon soot. Researchers have found that flares worsen air quality and quality of life of the people living nearby. A 2018 study found that pregnant women in Dallas-Fort Worth’s Barnett shale area who live close to oil and gas wells had higher odds of premature births.

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