There are no laws and no limits on emissions from burning fossil fuels. There is no law against flaring or methane leakage. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere at a rate cited as 34 times higher than carbon dioxide over 100 years, but over 20 years it is 100 times as bad as carbon dioxide. This is because methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide does, which complicates comparison of the two. “From a greenhouse gas perspective, the problem with fracking lies in the huge number of wells being drilled….This represents a huge increase in the potential pathways for methane leakage directly into the atmosphere.”15
In the U.S., gas companies are planning to build new or expanded export facilities around the coastline, which indicates continued reliance on fossil fuels worldwide. In planning to address global energy needs in this way, gas companies are turning away from using their capital to develop renewable energy use. This displacement of renewables will allow continued fugitive emissions as well as emissions during burning of gas at a time when climate change is widely accepted as reality. This acceptance would seem to indicate a need for reductions in emissions rather than the current existing plans.
15 Oreskes, Naomi, “Wishful Thinking about Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels.” Published on tomdispatch.cm on July 28, 2014