Delaware-size gas plume over Western U.S. illustrates the cost of leaking methane

By Joby Warrick

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud, so vast that scientists questioned their own data when they first studied it three years ago.


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