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Methane Studies Fuel Case for Regulations

Making Sense of Methane Study Overload

The number and range of studies done on methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide—shows both the gulf of data and wealth of interest in this area. That's a perilous combination prompting a polarizing debate.


A Harvard study published Monday found U.S. methane emissions could be 50 percent higher than the Environmental Protection Agency and others have estimated. This comes a couple months after another study found levels largely in line with the EPA estimate. Beginning this wave of studies was a controversial 2011 report from Cornell University concluding natural gas is worse than coal for climate change given its methane emissions.

The continual wave of these studies sends a clear message to the government: Step up your regulations. The Obama administration has indicated it plans to directly regulate methane emissions from natural-gas operations. Each study released adds more pressure to follow through.

Amy Harder



By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

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