Why Cracking Down on Methane is a Big Deal

Posted January 15, 2015 at 12:36pm

Slate : “Wednesday morning the White House announced a new plan to crack down on the oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.”

“Methane makes up a much smaller portion of America’s greenhouse gas footprint than carbon dioxide … so the proposal might seem like small potatoes. But it’s actually a pretty huge deal, for a few reasons.”

“Methane, the principal emission of natural gas consumption, is 20 times more powerful than CO2 over a 100-year timespan.”

“If we replace our coal with natural gas but let methane go unchecked, we won’t be much closer to meaningfully mitigating climate change,’ said Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund. ‘Leak rates as low as 1 to 3 percent undo much of the benefit of going from coal to gas.’”

“Stringent methane rules could alleviate some of the climate-related concerns about the fracking boom and could help refocus the debate around local pollution and land rights issues. These rules are also an opportunity, Brownstein said, for the gas industry to show good faith. ‘If the industry resists basic regulation for a relatively simple issue to solve, what is the public to think about the industry’s willingness to solve more complex issues?’”