New EPA Stats Confirm: Oil & Gas Methane Emissions Far Exceed Prior Estimates

Higher Baseline Plus Year-on-Year Increase Make Sector the Top Emitter over Ag

April 15, 2016
Kelsey Robinson, 512-691-3404,


The oil and natural gas industry has moved into first place as the highest sources of U.S. methane emissions, according to a long-awaited inventory published today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The report, which measures emissions from 1990 through 2014, reveals that the sector’s methane emissions are 34 percent higher than the agency’s previous estimates, with the industry pumping more than 9.8 million metric tons of pollution into the atmosphere each year. 

“Data gathered in the field shows that the oil and gas methane problem is much larger than government or industry was telling us, and today EPA is rightly making a necessary set of corrections, said Mark Brownstein, Vice President of EDF’s Climate and Energy Program. “Fortunately, major reductions in methane pollution are possible with some simple technologies and systematic efforts to find and fix leaks. Some companies are already going in the right direction. National standards are needed to ensure that all companies play by the same set of rules.”

EPA has updated the way it calculates emissions, based on a vast and growing body of peer-reviewed science published in recent years, which accounts for much of the increase over previous estimates. However, data using the new calculations also show that emissions grew 1.6 percent from 2013 to 2014, and 11 percent from 2010 to 2014. 

Methane is a potent climate pollutant responsible for approximately a quarter of today’s global warming, and the report confirms that the oil and gas sector is the largest source of our nation’s methane pollution, beating out livestock and agricultural production for the first time. 

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