The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released its latest Draft Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which shows, once again, how methane emissions have dramatically declined from natural gas systems.
In EPA’s 2014 Inventory, natural gas systems dropped to second place on the list of top methane emitters. Now, in this year’s Draft Inventory, natural gas systems fell to third place, behind landfills and enteric fermentation (cows). From page ES-13 of the Inventory:
EPA’s data also show that methane emissions from natural gas systems decreased 11 percent from 2005 to 2014. During that same time period, natural gas production increased by 33 percent.
Further, methane emissions across the board decreased by five percent from 1990 to 2014.
Given this data, it is even more curious that EPA is imposing stringent methane regulations on the industry – and that environmental groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), are leading the charge for their implementation.
EPA’s own data continually show that methane emissions are low and consistently falling. Numerous new studies, including many spearheaded by EDF, have come to the same conclusion, showing leakage rates that are far below what is required for natural gas to have significant climate benefits:
Considering that other sources are quickly outpacing natural gas systems for emissions, the question becomes: is this push for new regulations about reducing methane emissions or about attacking the natural gas industry?
If anything, natural gas production, through fracking, has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than any other government scheme or regulation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that even taking into account methane emissions, natural gas, brought about by fracking, is an “important reason” for the United States’ significant decline in emissions. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) natural gas has prevented more than one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted from power plants, bringing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to a 27-year low.