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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

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.