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Largest Sources of Methane Pollution Identified

The EPA has not finalized methane emission rules for exiting sources. (Gerry Dincher/Flickr)
The EPA has not finalized methane emission rules for exiting sources. (Gerry Dincher/Flickr)
June 23, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Methane is a potent greenhouse gas leaked by hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas production.

And a new report from the Center for American Progress pinpoints the who's who of methane pollution in Pennsylvania and throughout the Appalachian Basin.

The Center says 11 companies emitted half of the methane pollution from onshore oil and gas production in 2014 – more than 48 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e.

"We looked at the Appalachian Basin and found that Atlas Energy is emitting the most methane pollution in the oil and gas sector, followed by EnerVest Operating Company,” says Alison Cassady, the Center’s director of domestic energy policy. “They both emit more than 500,000 tons of CO2e of methane in 2014. "

More than 76,000 wells dot the Appalachian Basin, and Cassady says that likely underestimates the total. She adds that volatile organic compounds and other toxic chemicals are often leaked along with methane, worsening air quality and contributing to climate change.

Cassady says there are many companies using solid best practices to reduce methane emissions, but the concern is with those operations that are not.

"This is technology that exists, it's on the shelves, and companies across the country are using it,” she stresses. “Methane is a super-charged global warming pollutant that is much more potent than carbon dioxide, and that's why we're so interested in cutting methane pollution from the largest industrial source – the oil and gas sector."

The Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized limits on methane emissions from new sources, and there are calls for the agency to also set standards for wells and equipment already in operation.



Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA