Scientists investigate SW Colorado for origin of methane hotspot

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations are trying to find the origins of a methane hotspot detected from space last fall in southwest Colorado.

The sampling is part of a larger effort to measure air pollution across oil and gas fields in the West. And for the methane hotspot, NOAA's Russ Schnell says well pads and coal production are two prime culprits.

“Sometimes you can pick up an individual leaking well. Just one well," he said. "We’ll also look at the coal beds, methane outcrops where they know methane is seeping out naturally, and fly over coal mines.”

Scientists will also study methane levels above oil and gas fields in North Dakota and Texas. Schnell says results are expected to be published in about one year.