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Monday, April 29, 2013

EPA sharply reduces estimate of methane emissions from natgas production

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a report released this month,  has reduced its estimate of methane emissions from natural gas production by about 20%.

EPA says that tighter pollution controls have allowed an average annual decrease of almost 42 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall.

This apparent reduction comes despite the fact that natural gas production, led by hydraulic fracturing, has grown by nearly 40 percent since 1990.  I say"apparent" because the data is not without critics

Clearly, more and better data - especially gathered from the field by rigorous, mandatory monitoring efforts - is needed. As is mandatory adoption of leak detection and control technologies.  Methane emissions from natgas production, transmission, and distribution must be driven as low as possible.

As I've written previously, minimizing methane emissions issue is critical to deriving climate benefits from natgas production - and it's essential to the industry's social licence to operate.

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