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API attacks proposed methane regulation

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World Coal,

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has attacked proposed plans to regulate methane emissions in the US, saying the measures could hurt the country’s shale gas industry and lauding the natural gas industry's role in helping to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Additional regulations on methane by the administration could discourage the shale energy revolution that has helped America lead the world in reducing emissions, while significantly lowering the costs of energy to consumers,” said the API’s Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy, Kyle Isakower.

Isakower also highlights the oil and gas sector's efforts to reduce methane emissions, despite a significant increase in US oil and gas production, “thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies.”

This narrative has been challenged however by a new study from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), which linked the rise in US oil and gas production to an increase in atmospheric methane.

According to Professor Ralf Sussmann of KIT’s Atmospheric Environmental Research Division, who initiated the study, the report’s findings directly contradict official estimates from the US Environmental Protection Agency that report low and decreasing methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector over the past 10 yr.

This discrepancy could be a result of the EPA underestimating leak rates for the production and use of oil and gas in the US, Sussman explained. It also calls into question the environmental claims by the oil and gas industry.

“On long-term scales of several decades, natural gas generally is to be expected to have a climate advantage [over coal],” said Sussman. “On shorter time scales, however, this climate advantage already fails to take effect, if the leak rates of natural gas production exceed a relatively low threshold value of a few percent only.”

Ultimately, Sussman concludes, it will be the rate of uptake of leak reduction methods in the US oil and gas sector that will determine whether natural gas offers a greener alternative to coal.

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