The second annual report said the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants decreased 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2011 because plants used more gas, and that more solar and wind energy is being used. "This report confirms that major carbon reduction from power plants wouldn't be possible without a reliable and affordable supply of domestically produced natural gas," Simon Lomax, research director at Energy in Depth, a group launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told Bloomberg.
Methane, the greenhouse gas that is emitted during drilling, hydraulic fracturing and transportation of oil and gas, remains in the atmosphere for less time than carbon dioxide, but is "more efficient at trapping radiation, making its short-term impact 20 times greater than carbon dioxide," Drajem notes.
The EPA has proposed regulations for coal-powered plants, and may extend them to existing plants, but it is unclear if it has similar plans for the oil and gas industry. Environmental groups want the EPA to establish standards to prevent methane leakages the activities associated with oil and gas production, Drajem notes. "Reducing fugitive methane emissions is a top priority because they are so powerful," Mark Brownstein, managing director of the Environmental Defense Fund, told Bloomberg. (Read more)