“Oil and gas production may be responsible for a far larger share of the soaring levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in the earth’s atmosphere than previously thought, new research has found.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, add urgency of efforts to rein in methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry, which routinely leaks or intentionally releases the gas into air.
“We’ve identified a gigantic discrepancy that shows the industry needs to, at the very least, improve their monitoring,” said Benjamin Hmiel, a researcher at the University of Rochester and the study’s lead author. “If these emissions are truly coming from oil, gas extraction, production use, the industry isn’t even reporting or seeing that right now.”
Atmospheric concentrations of methane have more than doubled from preindustrial times. A New York Times investigation into “super emitter” sites last year revealed vast quantities of methane being released from oil wells and other energy facilities instead of being captured.”