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Diversified Energy Said Emissions Fell. Now It Says They Didn’t

U.S. gas producer told investors one thing, regulators another.

Diversified Energy natural gas equipment in Ohio’s Tri-Valley Wildlife Area. 

Diversified Energy natural gas equipment in Ohio’s Tri-Valley Wildlife Area. 

Photographer: Kristian Thacker for Bloomberg Green

In April, Diversified Energy Co. told investors it had achieved a “marked improvement” in its environmental record: It had cut direct greenhouse gas emissions by 28% in a single year.

But the natural gas producer told a different story to U.S. regulators, who require companies with large facilities to report emissions each year. Those estimates, made public by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, show Diversified’s emissions went up 19% over the same period of time.

The diverging numbers highlight how difficult it is for investors to judge a company’s environmental performance. Amid a surge in shareholder interest, companies are now publishing detailed reports covering everything from automobile usage to recycling. Diversified’s April sustainability report, its latest, stretches to 66 pages, complete with photographs of smiling workers in hard hats. But there are no uniform accounting standards for these disclosures, and few consequences for misstatements.