Oil-and-gas producers rely on flaring to limit the venting of natural gas from their facilities, but research led by the University of Michigan shows that this practice is far less effective than estimated.

The university says that flaring releases five times more methane in the United States than previously thought, and data published in the journal Science shows we overestimate flaring’s effectiveness and underestimate its contribution to methane emissions and climate change. If flaring issues were fixed, however, the university researchers estimate that the payoff could equal the equivalent of removing 3 million cars from roads.

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