Odorless, colorless methane gas is seeping out of wells and tanks at hundreds of natural gas facilities across the U.S., said the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, whose researchers used infrared cameras to scan for methane leaks at over 8,000 sites in the U.S.
They found hundreds of leaks scattered in an unpredictable pattern around the country, according to the study that the EDF published this month.
“The study confirms what previous studies were pointing to — that super-emitters are highly unpredictable, and that these leaks can happen anywhere, anytime, at large facilities and small facilities,” Matt Watson, associate vice president for the EDF’s climate and energy program, told The Huffington Post.
Methane, the primary element in natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas and is responsible for 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. It packs 84 times more warming power than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years that it’s present in the atmosphere, according to the EDF. The environmental group estimates that reducing global methane emissions by 45 percent could have the same short-term benefit as shuttering 1,000 coal-fired power plants.