EPA to assess methane leakage from US gas industry operations.

Guardian: “The White House on Friday opened the way to cutting emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry, saying it would study the magnitude of leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas.”
“The announcement seemed designed to please the international community – which is meeting in Yokohama to finalise a blockbuster climate report – as well as environmental groups suing to force the Obama administration to regulate the oil and gas industry.
The new strategy announced by the White House on Friday did not immediately direct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin drafting new climate regulations for the oil and gas industry.
Instead, the White House said the EPA would undertake a series of studies to determine the magnitude and prevalence of methane leaks from fracking sites, compressors, and gas pipelines.
The agency would decide by the autumn of 2014 whether to propose new controls on the industry. “In the fall, we will determine the best path forward to get reductions,” a White House official told a conference call with reporters.
….Methane – the primary component of natural gas – is more than 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Oil and gas sites are the biggest industrial source of methane.
The gas accounted for about 14% of US climate pollution in 2013, according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas inventory, and that share is expected to grow.
Environmental groups have been pressing Barack Obama for months to come up with a plan to cut methane.
Without those controls, Obama cannot meet his commitment to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels.
….A study published by the National Academy of Sciences last November found that the Environmental Protection Agency had grossly under-estimated methane releases from gas drilling.”