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How a Rural Texas Road Project Triggered a Cloud of Methane

Kinder Morgan spewed the super-warming greenhouse gas to clear a pipeline so a highway could be expanded. 

U.S. Highway 75 in Dallas, Texas,.

U.S. Highway 75 in Dallas, Texas,.

Photographer: Cooper Neill/Bloomberg
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The widening of a 10-mile (16-kilometer) section of highway in Texas led to the release of methane gas, illustrating how a routine safety measure employed by natural-gas pipeline operators can contribute significantly to global warming.

Kinder Morgan Inc. said it drained part of a line on Nov. 13 that runs near where workers were expanding Highway 271 from two lanes to four. It executed a planned blowdown, releasing gas into the air, a practice the International Energy Agency says should be avoided except in emergency situations because of its climate impact.