Environmentalists reject report on declining methane emissions in Marcellus

Methane gas
Source: DollarPhotoClub

A new report showing that methane emissions from oil and natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale have fallen by 10 percent since 2011 has been dismissed by environmental groups as ‘biased’.

The report from Energy In Depth – a research and education program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America – is based on data reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, and indicates a decline in methane emissions even as natural gas production in Pennsylvania increased by nearly 72 percent, according to figures reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Yet the report was dismissed by Scott Cannon, a spokesman for the local Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, who pointed to another study by Cornell University which states that the EPA’s calculations could be off as much as 50 percent.

He also contested the statement in the report which said that methane emissions have fallen despite the increase in oil and gas production, pointing out that “the US Energy information website says producing wells in the US are down since 2011 from 514,637 to 487,286 in 2013.”

Scientists have long warned about fugitive methane emissions accompanying shale gas extraction, although a consensus on exactly how much methane is released during shale exploration is far more difficult to reach.

A separate study from Cornell University pointed to casing and cement impairment in oil and gas wells as the main source of methane leaks, while an earlier study prepared jointly by Purdue and Cornell universities, shows that shale gas wells also emit high levels of methane during the drilling process; a stage previously not associated with greenhouse gas emissions.

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