Go read this investigation into major methane leaks in Texas and New Mexico - The Verge
There’s a rush to deploy new technology that can expose methane leaking from oil and gas infrastructure. One effort revealed hundreds of "super-emitting" sites in the Permian Basin along the border of Texas and New Mexico.
Scientists and journalists are on the hunt for methane spewing out of oil and gas infrastructure in the US. The leaking methane is invisible to the naked eye, but a recent investigation by The Associated Press — with help from NASA and other researchers — helps expose the huge scale of the problem.
In the Permian Basin, a major oil- and gas-producing area spread across Texas and New Mexico, they revealed hundreds of “super-emitting” sites gushing methane. Methane is the primary component of “natural gas” and is even more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. Using some neat tech, Carbon Mapper — the group of academic and nonprofit researchers working alongside NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory — spotted 533 of those super-polluting sites. That data was the starting point for some good old-fashioned shoe leather reporting by The Associated Press, which traced down the companies responsible using public records.
That sleuthing exposed a relatively small group of companies releasing a hell of a lot of pollution with impunity. Ten companies alone owned at least 164 of the super-emitting sites. A subsidiary of West Texas Gas, for example, owns a compressor station for natural gas called Mako that was caught leaking 870 kilograms of methane an hour, creating as much climate pollution as lighting up seven tanker trucks full of gasoline a day.
If it weren’t for that research and reporting, those methane emissions probably would have continued to sneak past regulators. They spotted 12 times more leaking methane at Mako than what the company that operates the site reported for its operations across the region in 2020.
The oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin consistently underreports or fails to report methane emissions altogether, according to the AP analysis. AP found that more than 140 super-emitting sites were releasing so much methane that their operators should likely have been mandated to report that pollution to the Environmental Protection Agency — but the vast majority of companies did not.