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Web Date: March 16, 2018

U.S. EPA watchdog says agency did not use possibly flawed methane data for regulation

Inspector General also affirms equipment used in controversial 2013 study was agency-approved
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: JACS In C&EN, Environmental SCENE
Keywords: greenhouse gases, methane, oil, natural gas, U.S., regulation
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Researchers continue to study methane emissions from oil wells like this one in Oklahoma and natural gas wells.
Credit: Shutterstock
Pumpjack on oil well in the Great Plains with cattle grazing behind and low rolling hills on the horizon.
 
Researchers continue to study methane emissions from oil wells like this one in Oklahoma and natural gas wells.
Credit: Shutterstock

In an attempt to resolve a scientific controversy stretching back to 2013, U.S. EPA’s inspector general (IG) has determined that the agency has not relied on possibly flawed results from a study of methane emissions from oil and gas fields.

Critics claimed that the study was based on inaccurate measurements made using faulty equipment. They alleged the study underestimated emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from U.S. oil and gas fields.

In a report released on March 16, the inspector general found that the devices were EPA-approved. The IG did not find conclusive evidence of misuse.

EPA did not use the study’s emission figures for development of its greenhouse gas inventory or for the agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, the report says. Nor did EPA use the study’s data when setting the 2016 regulation to limit methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector.

The study was published in 2013 (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 2013, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1304880110) by David Allen, a University of Texas, Austin, chemical engineering professor and a former top advisor to the agency.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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