A new report by Energy In Depth shows that methane emissions from oil and gas development have significantly declined in many of the top producing basins across the country, even as oil and gas production has skyrocketed.
Based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, EID’s report shows that methane emissions from some of the most prolific shales in the United States have fallen considerably.
For example, in the basins that include the Utica and Marcellus shales, methane emissions fell by 55 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The San Juan Basin – an area that anti-fracking activists have claimed has rising emissions – actually reduced methane emissions by six percent. In the Anadarko Basin – which includes portions of western Oklahoma, one of the top oil and gas producing states –methane emissions decreased by 34 percent. Substantial reductions have also been achieved in Texas, which is leading the United States in oil and gas production: In the Permian and Gulf Coast Basins, methane emissions decreased by 9 percent and 18 percent respectively.
Despite the great progress being made to reduce emissions, environmentalists have been pushing state regulators and the U.S. EPA to impose additional and costly regulations on methane emissions. For instance, a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters said in a letter to President Obama,
“We urge you and your administration to build on this legacy by announcing enforceable national methane emissions standards for new and existing oil and gas sources this fall […] This is essential to protect communities across the country and reduce the pollution that is disrupting our climate…”
The data from EPA, however, show that actions already being taken by the industry are delivering substantial results. In February, the EPA released its annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which also showed a decline in methane emissions from the oil and natural gas production industry. For natural gas production specifically, the EPA credited the industry for its “voluntary reductions” in methane, specifically through the use of new technologies. As the EPA observed:
“The decrease in production emissions is due to increased voluntary reductions, from activities such as replacing high bleed pneumatic devices, regulatory reductions, and the increased use of plunger lifts for liquids unloading.”
Check out EID’s infographic – Methane Emissions Decline in Top Oil and Gas Basins – to learn more.