Methane emissions in U. S. are 75 percent higher than EPA estimates

Feb 14th, 2014 | By admin | Category: Lead Articles

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Paul Hamaker
February 14, 2014

The emissions from methane leaks in the natural gas delivery system in the United States are
between 25 percent and 75 percent higher than the Environmental Protection Agency estimates
depending on the area of the country examined according to new study conducted by Adam
Brandt, an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University, and
colleagues from seven universities and seven national laboratories and government agencies that
was published in the Feb. 13, 2014, issue of the journal Science.
The researchers evaluated over 200 studies that ranged in scope from single plant operations to
nationwide studies and found that unintentional leaks of methane from natural gas pipelines
produced much higher levels of methane emissions than the EPA has verified. EPA limits for
production facilities were established in 1990 and have remained unchanged.
The researchers found 1,600 leaks in a single natural gas production facility. These leaks were
due to 50 faulty components that represent less than one tenth of one percent of all the
components in the plant that were physically in contact with natural gas.
The high rate of emissions is a source of environmental concern as the United States trends
toward the use of natural gas instead of coal or oil.
A more dramatic example of the effect of natural gas leaks was seen in a Dec. 17, 2013,
explosion and fire in the Gates City community of Birmingham, Alabama where one person died,
eight were injured, and an entire apartment complex destroyed due to a gas leak.

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