Moreover, there is no argument that gas emits less soot, mercury, lead, arsenic, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide--all pollutants that sicken and cause premature deaths--than coal. The EPA new data focuses on the discussion about global warming impacts of gas versus coal and that alone.
Such greater attention does lead to actual cuts in fugitive methane emissions. Fugitive methane emissions, therefore, are likely declining now in the USA, and future EPA measures of fugitive methane emissions probably will go down again. That is almost certain once the EPA green completion rule takes full affect in the next two years, as that rule can slash methane emissions during the well completion process by 90%.
Regulators and the gas industry itself should recognize by now that fugitive methane emissions from gas production could be the most important environmental impact associated with natural gas production. Across the board, gas must cut its environmental footprint, but its carbon impact will be decisive to the climate and to its marketplace and political acceptance.