The agency revised upward total methane emissions in the U.S. for the year 2013 from 636.3 million metric tons to 721.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, driven in significant part by increased estimates of emissions from oil and gas operations. And the overall methane emissions number is still higher for 2014, the most recent year in the inventory, at 730.8 million metric tons.
Meanwhile, still more recent satellite research is suggesting that U.S. methane emissions are on a big upswing — even as the EPA is expected to soon report new totals for methane emissions from oil and gas, as part of its broader annual inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions submitted to the United Nations. And if it sticks with preliminary figures, it will revise 2013 emissions upward by more than 25 percent, according to an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund. (What happens with other years remains to be seen).
These rules are also fostering a vibrant and growing methane mitigation industry in Colorado. According to a report from Datu Research, Colorado ranks 3rd in the nation for clusters of the companies that make, sell, and support methane control technologies. The majority of these companies are small businesses. This industry also supports four Colorado manufacturing plants providing solid jobs across the state.
As the EPA begins the Byzantine task of developing new methane regulations, it should consider ways to incentivize the adoption of emerging technologies that lower compliance costs. Congress might help the cause, too, by offering tax credits or accelerated deprecation to companies that deploy promising early stage methane detection equipment. For its part, the industry needs to embrace this cause as an essential part of its mission. The legitimacy of natural gas as a pro-environment fuel depends on it.
A real plan would require the facility’s permanent shutdown so those who live nearby can return home safely. Furthermore, the air board should require the gas company to fund the construction of community solar gardens that would provide needed economic relief to low-income residents and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Make some money producing natural gas or have healthy humans — that’s the real choice. You can’t have it both ways. (It’s never been done before, anywhere; we shouldn’t experiment in Pennsylvania.)The imperative to human health has never been clearer: Keep the carbon in the ground.”
“I encourage the BLM and EPA to work quickly to finalize rules that regulate all sources of oil and gas
methane emissions. Now that President Obama has directed EPA to propose a rule that regulates
methane emissions not just from new oil and gas operations, but from existing ones as well, the EPAshould work swiftly to write and propose these critical safeguards.”
Wolf realizes the pollution is real and problematic, and I applaud him for taking action. Our Pennsylvania constitution grants us the right to clean air and water within the Commonwealth, and that’s all we citizens ask.
If we’re going to prevent this catastrophe, we need to accelerate the solutions. One such solution is controlling methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Natural gas is mostly methane, an extremely potent contributor to climate change that accounts for one-quarter of the world’s current warming. Globally, the oil-and-gas sector is our largest industrial source of methane emissions.
n Pennsylvania alone, operators released at least 97,000 metric tons of methane in 2014, though officials say the real figure could easily be eight times higher. In fact, if just one percent of the natural gas produced in the state is escaping — and experts say that’s a lowball — then Pennsylvania companies could be emitting close to 780,000 metric tons of methane a year, and throwing away saleable product worth over $125 million.