NYT: Methane leaks from wells far exceed current estimates

The study supports similar findings by UC about leaky wells in the Permian basin

The New York Times turned to University of Cincinnati associate professor Amy Townsend-Small to explain the significance of a new study that found far higher amounts of methane leaking from oil and gas wells and pipelines in New Mexico than was previously believed.

Stanford University examined 27,000 sites or about 90% of all wells in New Mexico and concluded that 194 metric tons per hour of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, were released into the atmosphere. This is more than six times what federal regulators estimated.

“If this result is similar in other basins — which we don’t know if it is — that would eliminate the greenhouse gas emission savings of the coal-to-gas transition,” Townsend-Small told the New York Times.

While she was not part of the Stanford study, a similar study by Townsend-Small and her students, published last year in the journal Environmental Research Lettersfound that uncapped, idle oil wells could be leaking millions of kilograms of methane into the atmosphere and surface water each year. It was the first of its kind examination of methane emissions from inactive oil wells in Texas.

In 2016, Townsend-Small and her research partners examined methane leaks in 138 abandoned oil and gas wells and found that nearly 7% had measurable leaks.

Read the New York Times story.

Featured image at top: UC College of Arts and Sciences graduate Jacob Hoschouer takes samples at the site of an oil well in Texas. Photo/Provided

Related Stories


First-gen UC undergrad beating the odds, finding her voice

December 7, 2022

Many non-traditional students find a home at the University of Cincinnati, and Emily O’Bryant is no exception. A student who comes from a history of displaced housing as a ward of the court, O’Bryant is a first-generation student pursuing her bachelor's degree in communications through the College of Arts and Sciences.  “I am an independent student. My birth mom had me at 14 and I ended up in multiple homes throughout my childhood,” says O’Bryant. “Neither of my parents made it out of the eighth grade. I went through a few different types of care when I was younger all over the place, but as an adult I wanted to be better and do better.”  Only 26 percent of first-generation students complete at least a bachelor’s degree, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In addition to the usual struggles associated with adjusting to college culture, there are myriad additional barriers that first generation can students face, including lack of support from family and peers, college preparedness, racial disparity and financial stability.


Forbes: Parents of color more hesitant to choose medication to...

December 6, 2022

Forbes highlighted research from the University of Cincinnati's Jeffrey Mills and Jeffrey Strawn examining factors behind the decision to begin or decline medication treatment for childhood anxiety disorders after cognitive behavioral therapy did not lead to improvement.


Cincinnati.com: Flu is raging. What would you do, doc?

December 6, 2022

Hospital emergency departments in the Cincinnati-area are seeing a surge in patients who have flu symptoms and complications, pushing hospitals be near or at capacity, partially because flu is raging in the region. Hospitalizations for flu locally rose 107% last week. Cincinnati.com asked several local healthcare experts about what people should do as flu cases surge. One of those was Jennifer Forrester, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine.

Debug Query for this