Let’s look at the facts, and just the facts. Recently, the EPA released the draft of its annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which takes stock of total U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. The facts show, indisputably, that methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are going UP. That’s a problem for westerners—also indisputably—since increased methane emissions mean wasted natural gas, and lost money for taxpayers.
Yet, certain industry groups seem determined to present the facts their own way—they continue to cherry-pick the data, and to conflate their sources. This misleading approach is cheating westerners, because it means a lack of incentive to force action by industry to tackle this continued problem of waste.
Industry continues to lean on the statistic that methane emissions from the field production stage of natural gas systems have fallen 35% since 2007. But this statistic doesn’t take into account methane that is flared and converted into CO2—which is a problem. And then there’s everything that industry chooses not to mention. Just one example is the fact that methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector overall are up 2% in 2013, according to the draft EPA GHGI.
The real issue, however, is that this practice is a waste of an otherwise valuable resource, and taxpayers receive no return on that gas that is literally just burned off into the atmosphere—and saying that emissions have dropped drastically means there are no incentives to cut back on this waste.
It’s evident that industry groups are trying to create a smoke-and-mirrors illusion of decreased emissions, using different sources and by picking their favorite statistics. But, the facts are clear—methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are up, which means waste of our western resources. It’s time for industry to face the facts.