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Policy Factsheet

Monitoring Methane Emissions: Addressing Climate Change

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Members of Congress should reintroduce and support the Methane Emissions Mitigation Research and Development Act.

Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas: Key Climate Change Contributor

Methane (CH4) is the second-most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas and significantly contributes to global warming.

100-Year Global Warming Potential

Graph showing multiple of carbon dioxide 100-year global warming potential

Source: M. Etminan et al., Geophysical Research Letters 43 (2016)

2017 Global Methane Budget from Man-Made Sources

Chart: 30% Fuel production and use, 62% Agriculture and waste, 8% Biomass and biofuel burning

Source: The Global Methane Budget 2000-2017, by Marielle Saunois et al, Earth System Science Data

Although the challenge of reducing methane emissions can be daunting, the results from aerial monitoring show that with a technology and data-driven approach, operators can significantly reduce emissions while simultaneously reducing costs and improving operational efficiency.

– Pioneer Natural Resources (major U.S. oil and gas producer, 2022)

Opportunity For Impactful Action

Methane emissions from oil and gas production are localized, intermittent, and dominated by a relatively small number of super-emitters: less than 10% of sources of methane in oil and gas operations contribute more than half of the emissions in the sector.

Current Monitoring Capabilities Are Ineffective

  • There are no calibration standards that allow for comparison or aggregation of observations from different tools.
  • Current monitoring technologies face significant technological challenges limiting their effectiveness.
  • Current methane monitoring systematically underestimates emissions by up to a factor of three.

A National Approach is Needed for Effective Methane Emissions Reduction

The Methane Emissions Mitigation Research and Development Act addresses methane monitoring inefficiencies by:

  • Building a national approach for testing and calibration of new methane monitoring technologies.

  • Directing support to critical research areas essential for effective monitoring of methane emissions.

  • Improving the ability of the United States to accurately estimate methane emissions nationally, which is critical to any strategy addressing climate change.

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