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Study: Methane leaks from gas drilling not huge

A plume of gas burned to the right at a fracking site in Michigan run by the Encana Corp.
A plume of gas burned to the right at a fracking site in Michigan run by the Encana Corp. Dale Young/Detroit News via Associated Press/File

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WASHINGTON — Drilling and fracking for natural gas don’t seem to spew immense amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the air, as has been feared, a new study says.

The findings bolster a big selling point for natural gas, that it’s not as bad for global warming as coal. And they undercut a major environmental argument against fracking, a process that breaks apart deep rock to recover more gas. The study, mostly funded by energy interests, doesn’t address other fracking concerns about potential air and water pollution.

The results, which generally agree with earlier Environmental Protection Agency estimates, were published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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