Emissions of carbon dioxide down, methane up in EPA’s latest GHG inventory

US greenhouse gas emissions were an estimated 6.87 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in 2014, 1% more than in 2013 but 9% below 2005 levels, the US Environmental Protection Agency said on Apr. 15 in its 21st annual GHG inventory.

Emissions from natural gas systems were an estimated 42.4 million tCO2e in 2014, 10% more than 2013’s 38.5 million tCO2e and 12.5% more than 2005’s 37.7 million tCO2e, EPA said. Petrochemical emissions in 2005 were an estimated 26.5 million tC02e, 0.4% more than 2013’s 26.4 million tCO2e and 4.4% less than 2005’s 27.4 million tCO2e. GHG emissions from petroleum systems were an estimated 3.6 million tCO2e in 2014, 2.7% more than 2013’s 3.7 million tCO2e but 7.6% below 2005’s 3.9 million tCO2e.

It also said that estimated methane emissions reached 7.3 million tCO2e in 2014, 1.3% more than 2013’s 721.5 million tCO2e and 1.9% more than 2005’s 717.4 million tCO2e. Methane is the second most prevalent GHG in the US, accounting for 10.6% of 2014’s total domestic emissions, and has 25 times the 100-year global warming potential of CO2, which accounted for 80.9%, EPA noted.

An American Petroleum Institute official said the report showed lower methane emissions year-to-year from oil and gas production, but added that EPA has adopted a new methodology which is flawed in an apparent attempt to justify more stringent regulations.

“Industry-led efforts to reduce emissions through investments in new technologies and equipment are paying off,” said Kyle Isakower, API’s vice-president of regulatory and economic policy. Even as oil and gas production has risen dramatically, we believe methane emissions from production are falling as shown by previous EPA greenhouse gas inventories.”

Oil and gas producers will continue to make progress to reduce emissions voluntarily and under existing EPA regulations, Isakower said. “Safe and responsible development of energy from shale has helped America become the world leader in reducing emissions, with CO2 emissions down to near 20-year lows,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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