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EPA drastically underestimates methane released at drilling sites

                                            A well pad in southwestern Pennsylvania. A new study finds that methane levels above shale gas wells during the drilling stage are up to 1,000 times higher than EPA estimates.                                                 (Photo courtesy of Dana Caulton)

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By Neela BanerjeeApril 14, 2014, 5:44 p.m.

Drilling operations at several natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania released methane into the atmosphere at rates that were 100 to 1,000 times greater than federal regulators had estimated, new research shows.

Using a plane that was specially equipped to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the air, scientists found that drilling activities at seven well pads in the booming Marcellus shale formation emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that such drilling releases between 0.04 grams and 0.30 grams of methane per second.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to a growing body of research that suggests the EPA is gravely underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The agency is expected to issue its own analysis of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector as early as Tuesday, which will give outside experts a chance to assess how well regulators understand the problem. For the rest of this story please click the link to the L.A. Times:,0,2417418.story


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