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EPA to ease methane regs for industry, ‘single largest culprit’ of emissions spike

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Jeff Tyson

The Trump administration is expected to announce today that it plans to roll back regulations on methane emissions, making it easier for energy companies to release methane — a potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere.


Robert Howarth

Robert Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology

Robert Howarth is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University and a faculty fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. He studies the greenhouse gas footprint of methane extracted from shale formations such as the Marcellus shale. This month, he authored a study in Biogeosciences, demonstrating that increased emissions from the oil and gas industry have prompted a global spike in atmospheric methane.

Howarth says:

“Methane levels have been rising rapidly over the past decade. The shale gas boom in the U.S. is the single largest culprit, making up one third of the increase in all fluxes of methane globally from all sources.

“For the 10 to 20 years it is in the atmosphere after being emitted, methane is more than 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The increase in methane has contributed significantly to the accelerated global warming and climate disruption the Earth has experienced in recent years.”


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