On November 5, 2013, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing to discuss fugitive methane, with testimony coming from the EPA, oil and gas producers, and academics/researchers. Fugitive methane is methane that is not capturing during oil and gas production and that escapes into the atmosphere. The hearing discussed the recent Methane Emissions study by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas and Dr. A. Daniel Hill of Texas A&M, which found that natural gas production releases significantly less methane than the 2011 EPA estimates and that pneumatic devices at wellsites account for more methane releases than estimated by the EPA in 2011. The subcommittee discussed the economics of natural gas, the possibility of LNG exports, and the financial incentive that energy companies have in capturing methane. The subcommittee further discussed environmental concerns, such as the global warming ramifications of methane, which is 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Several of the panelists discussed how to better capture or prevent fugitive methane, such as with better methane capture devices or with flaring, which burns methane, turning it into carbon dioxide.
A video of the subcommittee hearing is available here: http://www.epw.senate.gov/
public/index.cfm?FuseAction= Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_id= 0ad995f7-0b75-a66e-155c- bc7397b70d86
The methane emissions study by the University of Texas is available here: http://www.pnas.org/content/
Written by: Tom Panighetti
November 6, 2013