Scientists flying over Colorado oil boom find worse air pollution

Scientists have found that Colorado’s Front Range oil and gas boom has been emitting three times more methane than previously believed — 19.3 tons an hour — a climate-change problem that state officials hope new rules will address.

The scientists also measured industry emissions of cancer-causing benzene and smog-forming volatile organic compounds at levels up to seven times higher than government agencies have estimated.

Their study — done at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and partly supported by the Environmental Defense Fund — is based on data gathered in 2012 from aircraft flying over the drilling zones north of Denver.

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