There is a debate about the amount of methane released into the atmosphere from natural gas drilling. A University of Texas study found rather little release. The thing about that study, however, is that it studied only nine companies. While the sites were randomly selected, those nine companies were not. (More here.)
A new study using aerial sampling found the opposite: lots of emissions from natural gas fields.
And nobody is looking at methane releases from tight oil fields, where much of the gas is flared.
But there is some good news. The companies studied in the U.T. report have been working with EDF and the government of Colorado to craft methane-emission regulations. Obviously, the companies are doing it because they already pretty-much comply, so why not try to stick it to lower-cost competitors? Thing is, that does not bother me. If appeals to monopolistic self-interest are what it takes to protect the environment, then that is what it takes to protect the environment.
Hopefully, what Colorado has built can be taken national. Or global.
The recent public revelation of the fact that the big hydrocarbon companies already factor in a carbon price opens the way to build a similar coalition. It will not be easy, of course: right now, the companies may forego otherwise-profitable projects, but they still get to keep the notional carbon price. That said, if some way can be found to compensate the companies that already use an internal price, then a coalition for a carbon tax could be built ...