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Published, Peer-Reviewed Methane Studies

Scientific Study and Government Analysis on Low Emissions

The natural gas industry – from the production of clean-burning natural gas at the well head to the end users – has reduced methane emissions by 38-percent since 2005, while production has surged by 35-percent during the same period.

While Range is primarily engaged in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons, total context is an important factor for stakeholders to make informed decisions about responsible natural gas development. According to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1990:

  • More than 11,000 miles of new transmission pipelines have been added since 1990, while methane emissions from transmission has decreased by 12-percent; and,
  • Customer base has increased by 17.5 million people since 1990, while methane emissions from distribution have decreased by 22-percent.

These enormous gains driven by industry-wide commitment and leading efforts from companies like Range. An analysis of recent EPA data further underscores similar findings from other studies that have found methane emissions from natural gas production are comparatively minor, well managed, and declining.

The head of the U.S. EPA has also said, “Responsible development of natural gas is an important part of our work to curb climate change.”

As detailed on other websites Range’s efforts and disclosures of low, manageable and declining emissions on a per-unit basis are consistent with existing research and peer-reviewed papers that confirm the environmental advantages of natural gas, some of those studies include:

  • University of Texas and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a major U.S. environmental organization, published a two-part report published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that “methane emissions from the upstream portion of the supply chain are only 0.38-percent of production.”
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “On a per-unit electrical output basis, harmonization reveals that median estimates of GHG emissions from shale gas-generated electricity are similar to those for conventional natural gas, with both approximately half that of the central tendency of coal.”
  • U.N. IPCC: “A key development since AR4 is the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply… this is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”
  • Cornell Univ.: “Using more reasonable leakage rates and bases of comparison, shale gas has a GHG footprint that is half and perhaps a third that of coal.”
  • Univ. of Maryland: “GHG impacts of shale gas are…only 56%that of coal.… [A]rguments that shale gas is more polluting than coal are largely unjustified.”
  • Carnegie Mellon Univ.: “Natural gas from the Marcellus shale has generally lower life cycle GHG emissions than coal for production of electricity in the absence of any effective carbon capture and storage processes, by 20-50% depending upon plant efficiencies and natural gas emissions variability.”
    • NOTE: Study partially funded by the Sierra Club
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Although fugitive emissions from the overall natural gas sector are a proper concern, it is incorrect to suggest that shale gas-related hydraulic fracturing has substantially altered the overall GHG intensity of natural gas production.”
    • NOTE: Coauthor is a lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report
  • National Energy Technology Laboratory(U.S. DOE): “Natural gas-fired baseload power production has life cycle greenhouse gas emissions 42 to 53 percent lower than those for coal-fired baseload electricity, after accounting for a wide range of variability and compared across different assumptions of climate impact timing.”
  • Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis/NREL: “Based on analysis of more than 16,000 sources of air-pollutant emissions reported in a state inventory of upstream and midstream natural gas industry, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generated from Barnett Shale gas extracted in 2009 were found to be very similar to conventional natural gas and less than half those of coal-fired electricity generation.”
  • AEA Technology(for the European Commission): “In our analysis, emissions from shale gas generation are significantly lower (41% to 49%) than emissions from electricity generated from coal. This is on the basis of methane having a 100 year GWP of 25. This finding is consistent [with] most other studies into the GHG emissions arising from shale gas.”
  • Worldwatch Institute: “[W]e conclude that on average, U.S. natural gas-fired electricity generation still emitted 47 percent less GHGs than coal from source to use using the IPCC’s 100-year global warming potential for methane of 25.”
  • The Breakthrough Institute: “The climate benefits of natural gas are real and are significant. Recent lifecycle assessments studies confirm that natural gas has just half as much global warming potential as coal.”