Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New EPA Emissions Report Offers Different View on Methane Emissions

From Energy in Depth:
The chart below details what EPA found with respect to methane emissions from natural gas systems in this year’s report compared to the figures it used in last year’s report:
                            1990     2007     2008     2009     2010
2012 report:      189.6    205.3    212.7    220.9    215.4
2013 report:      161.2    168.4    163.4    150.7    143.6
Diff. (raw):            28.4      36.9      49.3      70.2       71.8
Diff. (%):               15%      18%      23%     32%       33%
(All raw numbers listed in million metric tons of CO2 equivalent)
So, then: what do all these data mean? Three things jump out immediately.
The first is that EPA’s 2012 report attempted to argue that methane emissions had increased every single year from 1990 through 2009, with a slight decline in 2010.  But revised data issued in 2013 demonstrate precisely the opposite: in fact, there has been a significant and consistent decline in total methane emissions since 1990. Last year’s report suggested an increase in methane emissions of 14 percent since 1990. EPA’s new data show a decline of 11 percent.
The second is that EPA’s 2013 data show an increasing gap between agency estimates in 2012 and what it released this year – and always in the direction of fewer emissions. This suggests, at a minimum, that EPA’s original data set was deeply flawed (more on that in a moment).
The third point is that methane emissions are falling even as natural gas production continues to increase dramatically. Since 1990, U.S. natural gas production has increased by 38 percent. Since 2007, it has increased by 26 percent. There is simply no credible explanation for this divergence – more wells, greater production, fewer emissions – other than the role that significantly and consistently improving technologies continue to play in making the development process safer, cleaner and more efficient.
Read the whole article here.

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