Leaking methane is the Achilles' heel of Australia’s $60 billion-plus coal seam gas export industry, so there was a rush last week to welcome the CSIRO’s first measurements of these so-called "fugitive emissions", which found very little leakage. But the finding was much narrower than initial reports suggested.

The CSIRO scientists themselves were acutely aware of the limitations of their study, but their qualifications got lost in the headlines. The Australian Financial Review trumpeted: Coal-seam gas releases very little Greenhouse gas, CSIRO findsThe Australian had fun trivialising the issue: CSG leaks ‘equal to that of cows’ (That line by the way was plucked straight from oil and gas lobby group APPEA’s press release, comparing daily fugitive emissions of methane to that of four cows). ABC Rural’s report online read: Coal seam gas well fugitive emissions lower than previous estimates: CSIRO. Sadly these headlines don’t stand up to scrutiny: the jury is still well and truly out on fugitive emissions from CSG.