A satellite detected a 4.6-mile-long cloud of methane over Wyoming containing far more gas than the operator of the gas plant from which it likely originated told regulators it released. Bloomberg reports Tallgrass Energy’s Douglas Gas Plant told regulators it accidentally vented 2.1 metric tons of methane over five separate releases on December 6 and 7, and NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite detected the cloud just before the last release ended.

The 4.6-mile cloud required methane to have been released at 76 to184 metric tons per hour, scientists estimated. “It’s highly unlikely the volume reported by the operator could account for the emissions rate observed by the satellite coming from the facility,” Manfredi Caltagirone, head of the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), told Bloomberg.

Methane traps more than 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period. Rapidly slashing methane pollution, especially by fixing leaks and releases from oil and gas operations, is among the most efficient and cost-effective means of limiting short term global warming. The NASA satellite’s observations were corroborated by two European satellites. (Bloomberg $)