EPA: Methane Emissions from Fracking Are Still Declining

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

New data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems have fallen for at least the third year in a row, even as domestic production has boomed thanks to technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling.

According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP), methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems have decreased by about 13 percent since 2011, even as the total number of reporting oil and natural gas facilities increased by 25 percent over the same period.
From 2011 to 2014, U.S. oil production increased by 54 percent, and natural gas production grew by about 10 percent over the same period.
The GHGRP also shows that methane emissions from the fracking process itself have declined significantly. From 2013 to 2014, methane emissions reported from fracking fell by 25 percent. Since 2012, emissions have fallen 81 percent.
The decline in emissions appears to undercut the EPA’s recent push for expansive new regulations that target methane from the oil and natural gas development. The EPA has tried to justify the new rules on the assumption that methane emissions would increase by 25 percent without rules in place, a claim that is contradicted by the Agency’s own data.
The trend of declining emissions can also be seen in individual oil and gas basins, according to EPA’s mapping tool. In one of the most heavily drilled parts of the Barnett Shale region – the Fort Worth Syncline – methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems declined by 33 percent. The Syncline includes the City of Denton, which recently overturned an illegal ban on fracking.
Methane emissions from oil and natural gas production represent only about one percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.