High Methane Emissions In Oklahoma, Neighbors Linked To Oil And Gas

Nov 26, 2013

Correlations between propane and CH4 at NOAA/DOE aircraft observation sites in Oklahoma (A) and Texas (B) over 2007–2012. Correlations are higher in these locations than at any other North American sites.
Credit Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

A new comprehensive study of atmospheric data has found methane gas emissions from the Oklahoma region to be more than twice as high as previously thought. Researchers have linked the greenhouse gas emissions to oil and gas drilling and refining.

Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas alone could be responsible for nearly a quarter of the nation’s methane gas emissions, the new research suggests. That’s 3.7 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions — which were also shown to be higher than previous estimates.

Livestock is a contributor, nationally. But when sensors recorded methane in Oklahoma and its neighbors, they also detected propane. Scot Miller of Harvard University led the study.

“Propane is a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry, but it’s not produced by cows, it’s not produced by most other methane source,” Miller says.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently downgraded its estimate of natural gas emissions. The new research casts doubt on that decision. The Oklahoma agency in charge of methane monitoring and control, the Department of Environmental Quality, declined to comment on the study.


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