Sensible practices and low-cost technologies — such as finding and fixing leaks at oil and natural gas wells, processing centers and massive storage facilities — could cut methane emissions in half, according to a report from leading climate advocates.
Methane warms the climate at least 80 times more than an equal amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, according to the report from the Clean Air Task Force. So methane emissions’ impact is disproportionately large.
Methane is the primary constituent of natural gas, and the second-biggest driver of climate change. Smog-forming and toxic chemicals that leak from oil and gas sites along with methane harm air quality and endanger the health of people living nearby.
The Clean Air Task Force report says the federal Environmental Protection Agency could halve methane emissions by requiring the oil-and-gas industry to meet the common-sense standards. For example, instead of allowing oil-and-gas wells to vent natural gas into the atmosphere, the industry could capture the methane and use it. Implementing the standards would cost less than 1 percent of the oil-and-gas industry’s annual revenue.