Saturday, November 21st: Solidarity in Oakland, California, at Lake Merritt. Photocred: Ella Teevan

Natural gas leaks are a much bigger problem than we thought

by Molly Enking, Grist

Natural gas has been touted as a green energy source by some because, when burned for fuel, it emits less CO2 than coal. But before that happens, leaks from across the natural gas supply chain — from the drilling process to gas stoves — can unintentionally vent methane into the atmosphere. That’s especially bad news, since methane is roughly 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2.

And, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, natural gas infrastructure is leaking a whole lot more methane than previously suspected.

The researchers looked at methane emissions from several East Coast cities. The Environmental Protection Agency knew cities were emitting methane, but they didn’t have a great understanding of contributions from various sources. This study found that, not only are these metros emitting twice as much overall methane as the EPA had reported, but a much bigger chunk of those emissions come from natural gas (nearly 10 times more than EPA’s calculations, actually) versus traditional sources like cow burps and landfills.

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