Thursday, February 07, 2013

EPA adds oil and gas production to greenhouse list; ranks a distant second to power plants

For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency included oil and natural gas production as stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in its annual report on the subject, and said it ranked second, behind power plants, which emitted about 10 times as much, Mark Drajem reported for Bloomberg Businessweek. However, EPA looked only at major oil and gas production areas.

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)

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