EPA reduces natural gas GHG estimates; Pennsylvania reaffirms property law on 'minerals'

Two recent legal developments have provided some positive news for the US shale gas industry, which, despite a boom in natural gas production due to technological advances, is facing heightened scrutiny from regulators and legislators.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency in April 2013 revised its estimates of US greenhouse gas emissions during the period 1990-2010 and released its estimates for 2011. The EPA’s revisions changed the estimate for methane released in natural gas systems (including production, processing, transmission and storage, and distribution) from an increase of approximately 14 percent between 1990 and 2010 to a decrease of approximately 11 percent. As a result, the EPA’s new estimate of methane emissions from natural gas systems in 2010 is 33 percent lower than its original estimate.

This significant estimated decrease in emissions occurred despite an increase in US natural gas production of over 32 percent over the same time period, according to US Energy Information Administration statistics. Such decreased emissions could indicate recognition of greater efficiencies in the production process as well as more widespread use of leakage monitoring and control technologies than was previously assumed to occur in the industry…

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