Draft Federal Data: Oil and Natural Gas Methane Emissions Continue to Fall
- Feb 14, 2020 7:32 pm GMT
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U.S. methane emissions continue to decline despite significant increases in oil and natural gas development, according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency data.
EPA’s draft 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows that total U.S. methane emissions fell 1.2 percent from 2017 to 2018, continuing a trend that has seen these emissions reduced by 13 percent since 2005 and 30 percent since 1990. This phenomenon has occurred simultaneously to the United States becoming the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.
In fact, methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems have fallen a whopping 23 percent since 1990, at the same time that oil and natural gas production increased by 49 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
The decline in sector methane emissions is a testament to the widespread efforts of the oil and natural gas industry to reduce emissions from its operations. EPA largely attributes the declines “to a decrease in emissions from distribution, transmission and storage, processing, and exploration.”
Natural Gas Drives Power Sector Emission Reductions
The U.S. power sector similarly saw significant declines in carbon emissions as more natural gas and renewable generation has come online. Power sector CO2 emissions fell 27 percent since 2005, at the same time that the United States made a significant shift to more natural gas-fired electricity generation.
The EPA data also show year-over-year increases in U.S. carbon emissions in 2018, although since 2005 these emissions have been reduced nearly 12 percent. This was the first time in recent years that the United States followed the global trend of increasing emissions, however, as EPA explained:
“Globally, approximately 32,840 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 were added to the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels in 2017, of which the United States accounted for approximately 16 percent.”
Further, recently released International Energy Agency data show this trend did not continue in 2019. As IEA explains, while global emissions plateaued, the United States saw significant declines:
“The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis …US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period.”
The EPA’s final 2018 data will be released in April.
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