"This outreach is part of a broader administration initiative, set out in the President's Climate Action Plan, which establishes a federal task force to reduce methane emissions from a range of sources," Kolachalam said.
But while officials want to improve control of methane from natural-gas production and distribution, the White House and Energy Department have made clear that even with current leakage, they view natural gas as a climate winner compared with the coal it is displacing as a fuel source.
Podesta, who gathered reporters to tout the administration's new Climate Data Initiative, said he sees a "strong net benefit from a shift to natural gas."
And White House science adviser John Holdren, at the same briefing, said the methane strategy will help to further the climate benefits of gas. He said there are opportunities to "magnify the advantage" that natural gas has over coal, and over gasoline as a transportation fuel.
The view rebuts some environmentalists who argue the methane leakage problem is big enough to make the nation's natural-gas boom a loser from a climate perspective — especially if it's joined with a surge in liquefied natural-gas exports.
Research on the topic has yielded an array of results, and the White House climate plan calls for both better data collection, technologies, and administrative steps to help curb leaks.
Podesta, who was former President Clinton's chief of staff, joined the Obama White House after a decade heading the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank and advocacy group that he founded with deep White House ties.
A lot of his portfolio is the second-term climate agenda that rests on executive actions. On Wednesday he revealed just how much, estimating that work on climate is consuming 50 percent of his time.
He also said that more executive-level climate actions are coming from the Obama administration, including new efforts to increase energy efficiency in buildings.
Planned EPA carbon-emissions standards for power plants are a pillar of the White House climate plan, and EPA is slated to release draft rules for existing plants in June.
Podesta did not say whether EPA would move to set carbon-emissions standards for refineries. A National Journal story this month explored why time is quickly running out to craft those regulations.
A big focus of Wednesday's briefing was the new Climate Data Initiative, a project that includes work with Google and other private-sector players to provide information and mapping on various topics such as future sea-level rise.
The project is part of White House efforts to help communities become more resilient to extreme weather events that scientists say can be intensified by climate change.
Podesta told reporters that he's also hopeful that access to the data can help spur support for efforts to combat climate change.
"I think this begins to make clear what the risks are of inaction," he said of the data. "I think that localizing this information gives people a sense of how it really affects them."