That is because atmospheric conditions during this particular flight led them to believe the data gathered in those four hours were most reliable, Sweeney said. On other flights, the team actually measured higher emissions, but the atmospheric conditions gave the data more uncertainty.
Brock LeBaron, deputy director of Utah's Division of Air Quality, which has funded some of the work in the basin and been focusing on reducing ozone pollution there, said that upcoming efforts to improve air quality should also result in reduced methane emissions in the near future.
"Our own efforts in Utah and the EPA's oil and gas New Source Performance Standards ... will also significantly cut methane emissions during the next few years," LeBaron said.
In a statement responding to the study, Fred Krupp, who heads the Environmental Defense Fund, called for EPA to increase its requirements for how natural gas producers minimize and detect leaks.
Krupp, who has been a measured supporter of natural gas as a "bridge fuel" to transition the nation's energy economy toward cleaner sources, called the numbers "alarming."
"Reducing methane emissions is a critical issue not only for the industry, but for everyone concerned about climate change," he said.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500