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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A record amount of U.S. natural gas was released or burned at oil-and-gas well sites last year, EIA data shows.

Why it matters: The report Friday on venting and flaring is latest sign of the oil industry's struggle to rein in climate-warming gases as U.S. oil production surges.

  • Venting releases the powerful GHG methane, while flaring (or burning) produces CO2 emissions and also allows some methane escape.

What they found: Venting and flaring combined averaged a record 1.28 billion cubic feet per day in 2018.

  • "[T]he percentage of U.S. natural gas that was vented and flared increased to 1.25% of gross withdrawals, up from 0.84% the previous year," EIA said.
  • North Dakota and Texas accounted for the lion's share.

Where it stands: Oil wells in North Dakota and Texas, the heart of the U.S. boom, produce "associated" gas volumes that producers are sometimes unable to capture.

  • EIA notes that the crude oil boom has "outpaced the buildout of infrastructure to handle natural gas."
  • The flaring problem is the worst in North Dakota, where 17% of gross gas withdrawals are burned, per EIA.

What they're saying: The increase in Texas and North Dakota is "pretty shocking," per Daniel Raimi, an energy expert with the think tank Resources for the Future.

  • "It's also probably an underestimate of the problem. This has major local and global environmental impacts. Policymakers and industry can do better," he said on Twitter.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat — Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths.
  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  4. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

6 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.