“The leakage during compression, the leakage during transportation, is now at or above the fraction that outweighs the CO2 advantage.”

Al Gore

Methane emissions have become a frequent talking point among environmental groups, but in our review, this is more about sowing doubt than anything else. It might be an inconvenient truth for Man Bear Pig, but studies show that methane emissions rates are well below the threshold (3.2 percent) that would impact the climate advantages of natural gas. The U.S. methane leakage rate is about 1.2 percent, not only making it about 30 percent lower than the global average of 1.7 percent but also far lower than the level at which the climate advantage of natural gas is lost, according to the International Energy Agency. Methane emissions are dropping across the country: they’re down 47 percent in the Four Corners region; have dropped to about 0.4 percent of production in the Marcellus Shale; and have declined by 19 percent overall since 1990 in the United States. There are studies suggesting methane leakage is higher than previously thought, but even those new estimates tend to show a leakage rate still below the 3.2 percent threshold.

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