February 17, 2013

The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that overall US emissions declined by about 3 per cent from 2010 to 2011 and that this was largely driven by power plants shifting from coal to natural gas.

The EPA’s latest report on greenhouse gases (GHGs) also shows a 66 per cent drop from 2010 to 2011 in methane emissions from oil and gas production and distribution.

In other words, not only has gas production driven a fall in US GHG emissions, but as the industry matures gas production itself is becoming less greenhouse-intensive.

The data excludes agriculture, which can be a significant source of methane. The EPA’s previous inventory of GHGs, released in 2012, showed enteric fermentation from livestock and manure management were two of the top five sources of methane in the US.

But the bigger picture is certainly good news: greenhouse gas emissions are falling in the US, led in part by the greater use of natural gas.

For a more detailed discussion of the EPA’s findings see the Energy in Depth website.