INSTITUTE INDEX: Whistleblower complaint charges EPA with methane leak cover-up

This year the Environmental Defense Fund hired a leak detection company to fly a helicopter over 8,000 oil and gas drilling sites in seven states and use infrared technology to document leaks. This is what they captured at one site in Texas. (Image is a still from this EDF video.)

Date on which NC WARN, a North Carolina-based climate advocacy group, filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency's Inspector General that charges the EPA is covering up underreporting of methane releases from the natural gas industry and that seeks an expedited investigation: 6/8/2016

According to whistleblower Touché Howard, an engineer who invented the technology used to measure methane leaks and on whose testimony the complaint is based, number of times by which studies overseen by David Allen, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the former head of the EPA's Science Advisory Board, may be underreporting emissions: 100

Number of years that Howard, drawing from his own research, has been urging EPA officials to address and resolve technical problems related to devices used to measure methane leaks, to no avail: 2

Years in which the Allen studies at issue, which have been used by the natural gas industry to downplay the problem of methane leakage, were published by the Environmental Defense Fund: 2013 and 2014

Percent of the funding for the 2013 Allen study that came from oil and gas companies: 90

According to a 2016 EDF study, percent higher methane leaks are than original estimates found: 90

Year in which the EPA Inspector General issued a report critical of the EPA's efforts to reduce methane emissions, focusing on the natural gas distribution sector: 2014

Percent decrease in industry-wide emissions that could be achieved by addressing that sector: 1

Total potential emission reductions that could be achieved by addressing the production sector, on which NC WARN's complaint focuses: 82

Rank of the natural gas industry among sources of manmade greenhouse gas pollution in the United States.: 1

Rank of methane among the most prevalent greenhouse gases emitted from human activity in the United States: 2

Number of times more effective methane is at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period: 25

Over a 10-year period: 100

Year in which EPA released a final rule on emissions standards for new oil and gas wells and on-site well equipment: 2016

Because the EPA has yet to release rules for existing wells, which the industry has vowed to fight, percent of methane emissions from oil and gas equipment that are still not regulated: 75

(Click on figure to go to source.)