Inside Climate News reports on the peer-reviewed study that indicates that 90 percent more methane than the government had thought is escaping into the atmosphere as a result of natural-gas drilling operations in the the Barnett Shale. The findings were released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
Understanding the scope of methane leaks is crucial, because the answer will determine whether the ongoing shift from coal to natural gas-fired electricity creates a net benefit for climate change. Although gas power plants emit much less carbon dioxide than coal plants do, even small leaks of methane—the main component of natural gas—could undermine that advantage.
Methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on 20-year timescales, and 34 times more powerful on 100-year timescales.
Also worth noting is that just “2 percent of the oil and gas facilities in the Barnett released 50 percent of the methane.” So some operators need to get their act together more than others.