The internal watchdog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday that the regulator does not adequately address methane leaks from natural gas pipelines, harming both the economy and environment.
The EPA Inspector General said the agency's current voluntary program to address methane leaks from pipelines has yielded only minimal reductions of the potent greenhouse gas.
As well as contributing to climate change, the report said, more than $192 million worth of natural gas was lost in 2011 due to such leaks, increasing prices paid by consumers.
The report recommended that the EPA partner with the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to improve oversight over methane leaks. President Barack Obama has called for such a partnership, but the agency has not yet taken such a move.
The president's 2013 climate action plan said addressing methane emissions was "critical to our overall effort to address global climate change."