New Research Finds High Pollution Emissions from Gas Field in Utah

August 7, 2013 –

Researchers have discovered alarmingly high levels of emissions over a natural gas drilling field in Utah. Such high levels could completely counteract the benefit of burning natural gas over oil or coal to produce energy.

Equipment associated with natural gas exploration and development in Utah’s Uintah Basin, and the plume from a distant power plant. A new CIRES, NOAA study finds significant methane leaks in the basin. CREDIT: David Oonk, CIRES.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in partnership with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), found that “around 9 percent of the natural gas being produced per year in the basin is leaking into the air,” according to the Colorado Independent. Paper author Colm Sweeney said:

“We need to more carefully consider each of these [gas fields] and understand their emissions. It may turn out that they’re not quite the savior that we thought they were.”

Not only are these emissions sources of pollution, but they represent a “huge loss” of energy resources and profits to energy companies, Sweeney said..

The research findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (click here for the abstract). Click here to read more about the study on the CIRES web site.

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