The oil and natural gas industry is producing more methane than previously thought, according to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA's new numbers push cow farts out of first place as the top source of methane. The new data also shows an emissions increase of 1.6% between 2013-14 and an 11% increase between 2010-14, released mainly from natural gas production. While cleaner than coal when burned, the contained natural gas can leak methane throughout production and transportation. Luckily, energy experts claim there is an easy fix.
Plugging gas leaks is simple, but time consuming. New technologies to help find and more accurately assess methane leaks from underground natural gas lines and other infrastructures are also being developed, but stronger regulations are needed for real change. In one meaningful step, President Obama has proposed cutting methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production up to 45% by 2025.