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Environment

… As Methane Concerns Grow

by Jeff Johnson
April 15, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 15

A study released last week raises concerns about substituting methane for coal. World Resources Institute (WRI) researchers find that leakage from natural gas drilling, fracturing, and production must be kept at less than 1% of total production to ensure that natural gas maintains its climate advantage over coal. WRI researchers say methane emissions from gas fields are currently in the 2 to 3% range, citing EPA estimates. But WRI also notes that technologies are available to cut methane loss in half. The technologies are cost-effective and will eventually be required by EPA, according to the study. The gas industry is challenging the EPA and WRI leakage numbers, saying they are too high. The dispute might be cleared up in the next few months, when a study by the University of Texas, Austin, the Environmental Defense Fund, and nine gas producers is expected to be released.

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