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Environment

Methane Cuts Would Aid Climate, Study Says

by Steven K. Gibb
April 27, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 17

Environmentalists have analyzed the 20-year climate impact of methane leaking worldwide from oil and gas operations and found that it is equivalent to 40% of the impact of total global coal consumption. Methane, the main component of natural gas, has more than 80 times the climate-warming effect of carbon dioxide. The study was issued by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an advocacy group. It found that 3.5 trillion cu ft of gas worth $30 billion escaped from oil and gas operations in 2012. Without rules under consideration by the U.S. and other nations, the researchers estimate that methane emissions by the oil and gas sector will grow 23% by 2030. Despite the scale of the methane loss, few steps have been taken to regulate that leakage. EDF is urging more short-term methane capture as a way to boost company revenues from natural gas and rapidly address climate change. “Cutting methane is often a very cost-effective way for countries to achieve immediate climate benefits while they work on long-term carbon dioxide goals,” says EDF’s Mark Brownstein.

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