Greens: Gas developers aren’t telling investors of methane leaks

Greg Nash

Natural gas developers are providing very restricted information about their methane emissions to investors, according to a report released Monday by a green group.

According to an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) analysis, only 18 of 65 major gas companies disclosed methane emissions to their investors, and none laid out emission reduction targets. 

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Among companies that do disclose emissions, the report said, there was “vague, qualitative information that is not actionable.” The report said there is no standardized methodology for methane reporting across various financial disclosure forms, from Securities and Exchange Commission filings to reports with the sustainability not-for-profit CDP. 

The study suggests companies and regulators need to do more to increase methane leak reporting. 

“Some leading companies are already instituting best practices to reduce emissions, but without rigorous, consistent data, investors can’t gauge progress, manage risks, or compare company performance,” said Sean Wright, a manager in EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Program and the report’s lead author.

The study comes as both the gas industry and federal regulators look to crack down on methane emissions. 

Methane, the chief component of natural gas, has 25-times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Gas companies say they have a financial incentive to reduce emissions because the more methane they capture, the more gas they can put on the market. 

The industry reports reducing its emissions by 11 percent since 2005 and says it has endorsed voluntary programs to reduce those emissions further. 

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed in August a plan to cut methane emissions across the oil and gas drilling sector. The industry has warned against new federal methane regulations, but environmentalists and regulators say they’re necessary for reducing especially powerful emissions.