Enough methane gas leaks from pipelines between Permian wellheads and processing facilities to power 2.1 million homes, a study published Tuesday in Environmental Science and Technology Letters finds. The 213,000 metric tons of methane escaping from so-called gathering lines is 14 times higher than a previous EPA finding. The study represents the second finding that EPA is underestimating methane pollution in as many weeks and is at least the fourth such finding this year.
Methane, the main ingredient in so-called “natural gas,” is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, trapping more than 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period. The assessment, conducted by researchers from Stanford, U. of Arizona, EDF, and Carbon Mapper, is based on aerial surveys and did not examine the mechanisms by which methane was escaping from gathering lines. Methane pollution, especially from oil and gas operations owned by private equity firms in the Permian Basin, is increasing — as is its prominence in global efforts to address the climate crisis. (E&E $, Houston Chronicle)