Methane emissions from oil-and-gas operations are roughly 50 percent higher than estimates reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a new study.
Researchers found methane emissions in the United States are nearly five times higher in the south-central region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
The study, conducted by scientists at Harvard University and seven other institutions, was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Significance of the research, via the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
Successful regulation of greenhouse gas emissions requires knowledge of current methane emission sources. Existing state regulations in California and Massachusetts require ∼15% greenhouse gas emissions reductions from current levels by 2020. However, government estimates for total US methane emissions may be biased by 50%, and estimates of individual source sectors are even more uncertain. This study uses atmospheric methane observations to reduce this level of uncertainty. We find greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and fossil fuel extraction and processing (i.e., oil and/or natural gas) are likely a factor of two or greater than cited in existing studies. Effective national and state greenhouse gas reduction strategies may be difficult to develop without appropriate estimates of methane emissions from these source sectors.