Newly Exposed Methane Threat Trumps Latest 'False Solution' on Emissions

Environmental groups are raising flags over what they say is another “false solution” as the Obama administration on Tuesday put forth its new proposed methane emissions rules.

Meanwhile, a new study revealed that those very emissions are in fact “substantially higher” than official estimates, adding to the growing body of evidence showing that the proliferation of natural gas—even if “capped”—will only exacerbate climate change.

The study, led by researchers at Colorado State University and published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that natural gas gathering facilities lose about 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year, amounting to roughly eight times more than previous estimates used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The facilities, which collect from multiple wells before distributing the gas to power plants and homes, have been overlooked by previous emission surveys. “Yet,” notes Mark Brownstein, vice president in the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate and Energy Program, “they may be the largest methane source in the oil and gas supply chain.”

The newly identified emissions “would increase total emissions from the natural gas supply chain in EPA’s current Greenhouse Gas Inventory by approximately 25 percent if added to the tally,” Brownstein notes.

Further, the emitted methane “packs the same 20-year climate impact as 37 coal-fired power plants,” and is said to be 87 times as potent as carbon dioxide.