Reconciling Divergent Estimates of Oil and Gas Methane Emissions

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec. 7, 2015; doi:10.1073/pnas.1522126112 ) / Daniel Zavala-Araizaa, et al.
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/12/03/1522126112.full.pdf

[Inside Climate News] A sprawling, aggressive effort to measure the climate footprint of natural gas production has yielded striking results: methane emissions from the Barnett Shale in North Texas are at least 90 percent higher than government estimates.

That conclusion comes from a peer-reviewed study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is the most sweeping study to emerge from the Environmental Defense Fund’s $18-million project to quantify methane leaks from the natural gas industry. It was written by 20 co-authors from 13 institutions, including universities, government labs, EDF and private research firms.

Overall, the two-year study found that methane emissions from the Barnett Shale are nearly twice as much as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and 5.5 times the number from a separate global database.

Co-author Amy Townsend-Small, an environmental studies professor at the University of Cincinnati, said peer-reviewed papers often find larger emissions than EPA estimates.

The EPA’s databases are often based on decades-old methodology, Townsend-Small said, adding that the federal agency knows it has “a long way to go…”

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