Climate-Changing US Methane Emissions 2.7 Times Higher than Estimates (Chamberlain)

For some oil and gas producing regions, the study found the methane levels not 1.7 times higher but 2.7 times higher. I think in my research I saw that they even found 5 times more in some particular regions.

Jacob Chamberlain writes at


The amount of the potent greenhouse gas methane the U.S. is emitting may be 50% greater than the amount estimated by government agencies, a group of scientists from Harvard and other leading academic institutions warned in a report published Monday.

"The total U.S. impact on the world's energy budget is different than we thought, and it's worse," Anna Michalak, study co-author and Earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, told the Associated Press.

According to their research, methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction and refining processes in the South Central United States alone are nearly five times higher than previous estimates.  "It will be important to resolve that discrepancy in order to fully understand the impact of these industries on methane emissions,” stated lead author Scot M. Miller, a doctoral student in Earth and Planetary Sciences through the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The researchers, who published the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), say previous estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the international Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) have fallen short because of faulted methodology.

As opposed to calculating estimates from known methane emitting sources, as the EPA and EDGAR have done, the new research analyzes "top down" measurements of methane in the atmosphere, using meteorological data, which was then traced back original sources.

The result paints a far bigger, and more dire, picture of methane in the atmosphere, the researchers say.

The calculations showed that levels of methane coming from the U.S. are up to 1.5 times and 1.7 times higher overall than the amounts previously calculated by the EPA and EDGAR respectively. In addition to the fossil fuel industry, emissions from sources such as cattle farming, landfills, and manure management were also far greater. Methane emissions from livestock operations are up to twice as high as previously thought.

"Successful regulation of greenhouse gas emissions requires knowledge of current methane emission sources," say the report's authors, adding that their findings "cast doubt on the EPA's recent decision to downscale its estimate of national natural gas emissions by 25 to 30 percent."



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5 Responses

  1. The number in the headline needs to be corrected, please, or further content added? This doesn’t support a factor of five for the difference.

    • The factor of 5 was mentioned somewhere in an article I used for my research but pertained to a particular area. I’ll try to look it back up. The oil and gas producing areas generally were up by a factor of 2.7. The 1.7 is a nationwide estimate including areas that don’t produce methane.

  2. The United States is spewing 50 percent more methane — a potent heat-trapping gas — than the federal government estimates, according to a comprehensive new scientific study. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. according the news with ryot

  3. Much of that extra methane, also called natural gas, seems to be coming from livestock, including manure, belches, and flatulence, as well as leaks from refining and drilling for oil and gas, the study says. It was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

  4. If you want still more dire news about the climate and the environment there is plenty. Check out

    and follow the links to the two lecture videos by physicist and engineer Saul Griffith. They are hair-raising. And the US is certainly not a benevolent power in all of this, despite special pleading by some.

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