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Oct 9, 2014 4:16 PM

Satellites see hot spot of methane in US Southwest

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) A satellite that measured the potent global-warming gas methane in the atmosphere has found a surprising hot spot over the southwestern U.S.

That result hints that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considerably underestimates leaks of methane, which is also called natural gas.

The hot spot appeared over the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. It contains about 1.3 million pounds of methane a year. That's about 80 percent more than the EPA figured. That amount would trap more heat than all the carbon dioxide produced yearly in Sweden.

University of Michigan scientist Eric Kort said the methane likely comes from leaks as workers extract natural gas from coal beds, and not from hydraulic fracturing, called fracking.

The study was released Thursday by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


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