Sunday, April 14, 2024

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Limitations on Methane Leaks Might Be Returning to the United States

On Wednesday, April 28th, 2021, the Senate voted on restoring limitations on methane leaks. and in a 52-42 vote, the motion passed, which will send it to the House. The motion received support from both sides, so it is only a matter of time before it returns to law.

The limitations on methane leaks were rolled back in 2016, along with many others during the previous administration. Removing this limitation meant that oil and gas companies no longer had to monitor methane leaks.

Since then, methane emissions have continued to increase. However, for the United States to meet its climate goals, these leaks must be regulated.

Methane Vs. Carbon Emissions

Generally, when emissions are mentioned, they are referring to carbon emissions. After all, they are by far the most numerous, however, methane emissions are far more potent.

In fact, they are 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide in regards to the green house effect.

However, unlike carbon dioxide that can last 300 to 1,000 years in our atmosphere, Methane has a much shorter lifespan of 12 years. This is because methane will naturally break up as a result of chemical reactions.

Therefore, even though it is more potent than carbon, its short lifespan makes it a better option than carbon. Nevertheless, this is no excuse to allow preventable methane emissions to leak.

Methane Emissions Reached A Record High in 2020

Record High

Despite the lockdown conditions impacting the release of carbon emissions, methane emissions reached a new high.

A five-year study uncovered that methane leaks are a far bigger problem than the EPA ever let on. This study revealed that emissions were 60% higher than the EPAs findings at 13 million metric tonnes.

While methane emissions are largely associated with oil and gas companies, they are not the only source. In fact, you may have had the biggest contributor for dinner last night.

Red meat.

While it might sound ridiculous, a single cow can release 200kg of methane gas from farts and burps. And when you factor in the millions of cows around the world, alongside other livestock animals, the number of emissions is staggering.

Thus, even if the lockdown was in affect, it wouldn’t have an impact on methane emissions.

Preventing Methane Leaks Is Smart For Business

What makes the least amount of sense about the rollback, and even why companies would honor it, is the fact that they are losing product. Seriously, these companies are watching their precious resource disappear.

It’s like running a lemonade stand with a hole in the pitcher.

In total, these companies are losing natural gas at a rate of 3.5%. This equates to 1.4 million tonnes of wasted gas each year. That’s enough gas for every home in both Houston and Dallas.

One of the biggest sources of methane leaks actually comes from abandoned wells. If the oil industry addresses this problem, not only would it lead to better business practices and fewer emissions, but it would also create jobs.

However, it is clear that unless these companies are legally responsible to do so, they are happy to do nothing about it.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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