Methane Emissions Far Worse Than U.S. Estimates, But Study Concludes Natural Gas Still Better Than Coal

Posted by Marianne Lavelle
Feb 13, 2014 4:00 PM ET

The Great Energy Challenge Energy Blog

Emissions of the potent heat-trapping gas, methane, the main component of natural gas, are likely 50 percent higher than U.S. government has estimated in its official greenhouse gas inventory, says a new study that is the most comprehensive effort yet to assess the problem.
But the team of scientists, after reviewing more than 200 earlier studies spanning 20 years, concluded that methane leakage was not great enough to negate the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas as a fuel for electricity. (See related “Quiz: What You Don’t Know About Natural Gas.”) The study cautioned, however, that switching to natural gas as a vehicle fuel was not likely to help cut carbon dioxide emissions, given probable leakage rates.
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