Western Energy Alliance Reacts to NOAA Study on Methane Emissions

October 6, 2016

DENVER - Western Energy Alliance released the following statement responding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) study in the journal Nature on global increases in methane emissions. The following comment is attributable to Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs:

“The recent NOAA study and several others show that increased global methane emissions are not from oil and natural gas production, but from natural sources like wetlands and natural seeps. It’s time for the Administration to stop punitive regulation on the only industry that captures methane in substantial quantities and puts it to beneficial use. The natural gas industry provides home heating, reliable electricity, transportation, and manufacturing inputs, all while delivering more greenhouse gas reductions than wind and solar combined. We wish that the Administration would recognize good science, and stop the climate change orthodoxy that actually punishes a real solution for climate change.

“Environmental groups have been lobbying for more methane regulations on the oil and natural gas industry, despite the fact that industry has reduced methane emissions by 21 percent since 1990 at the same time natural gas production skyrocketed 47 percent. Several federal rules that chase very small emissions amounts–between .38 percent and .42 percent according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and University of Texas–at the wellsite would slow production and put at risk the much larger climate change benefits that natural gas delivers in the electricity sector, where emissions are ten times higher. These federal rules are counterproductive to the President’s climate change goals, as natural gas is the primary reason that the United States has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country.”

Additional Background

  • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “…the rapid deployment of hydraulic-fracturing and horizontal-drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply and allowed for a more extensive switching of power and heat production from coal to gas …is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”
  • According to EPA’s greenhouse gas GHG inventory, the entire oil and natural gas industry represents about 3.4 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. Methane emissions from exploration and production are just 1.07 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions.
  • EPA estimates industry-wide natural gas leakage rates at 1.5 percent, while several studies commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) put the rate between 1.2 and 1.6 percent. All studies based on actual measurements show rates far less than the 3.2 percent threshold that EDF claims is necessary for natural gas to deliver a climate change benefit.  

Additional detail on the climate benefits of natural gas is available on the Alliance’s methane webpage.

# # #