On Feb. 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new data indicating that in 2011, the oil and natural gas sector was the second-highest contributor of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. A method of natural gas drilling, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a major component of this industry. Given this data and its stated commitment to addressing climate change, the Obama administration will have to reconsider its strong support of natural gas production.
EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
The data comes from an EPA database of greenhouse gas emissions from more than 8,000 industrial facilities, such as power plants and oil refineries. In 2008, Congress required the EPA to begin collecting the data, and last year the agency released initial greenhouse gas data from 29 source categories. The new 2011 greenhouse gas data includes 12 additional source categories for a total of 41 sources across nine major industries. The most notable expansion was the first-time inclusion of nine source categories that make up the oil and gas industry sector. The data was also expanded to include methane emissions, generally produced by large emitters in the oil and gas industry.
The greenhouse gas reporting program covers an estimated 85 to 90 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The data is limited because only facilities emitting 25,000 tons or more annually (equivalent to the carbon dioxide released from burning 131 rail cars worth of coal) are required to report. The data also excludes emissions from transportation and agricultural facilities. Continue reading “Oil and Gas Production a Major Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, EPA Data Reveals”