EPA: the natural gas industry emits a lot of greenhouse gasses

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a draft report on U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 1990-2009. The draft is now open to public comment.

Among other things, EPA looked at natural gas systems, wihch include hundreds of thousands of wells, hundreds of processing facilities, and over a million miles of transmission and distribution pipelines. EPA found that natural gas systems were the largest anthropogenic source category of methane emissions in the U.S. in 2009, due to an increase in production and production wells (anthropogenic means greenhouse gas emissions that are a direct result of human activities or are the result of natural processes that have been affected by human activities). Emissions from natural gas systems are believed to have increased by 16.6 percent since 1990, and have grown by 4 percent from 2008 to 2009 alone due to an increase in production and production wells.

As I've blogged about before, there are many solutions to capture these emissions, and they are very profitable for the industry. Now that EPA has also required the industry to begin measuring and reporting its emissions beginning in 2011, we should have more accurate data in the years to come.

We know industry can capture its emissions, we know it is profitable, and we know it helps the planet. Why isn't it mandatory?