Study Undermines EPA, Blames Rising Methane Levels on Farming, not Hydraulic Fracturing
A newly released international study finds that farming, not hydraulic fracturing, is the likely culprit behind rising global methane levels, undermining the Obama administration’s crackdown on methane from oil and gas production in the name of climate change.
The research published 11 March in the journal Science came a day after President Obama unveiled a pact aimed at cutting methane emissions from oil and gas producers by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.
Hinrich Schaefer, an atmospheric scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand, and the lead author of the research team, called the results “a real surprise.”
“That was a real surprise, because, at that time, the US started fracking and we also know that the economy in Asia picked up again, and coal mining increased. However, that is not reflected in the atmosphere,” Schaefer told the website Phys.org.
He said agricultural practices are the likely reason for the spike of methane in the atmosphere since 2007, not fossil fuels as many have assumed.
“Our data indicate that the source of the increase was methane produced by bacteria, of which the most likely sources are natural, such as wetlands or agricultural, for example from rice paddies or livestock,” Schaefer said.