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Report: Capturing Dangerous Methane Gas Good Business in Ohio

PHOTO: A new report from the Environmental Defense Fund highlights how over a dozen Ohio companies are benefiting from methane mitigation. Photo credit: Joshua Doubek/wikimedia.
PHOTO: A new report from the Environmental Defense Fund highlights how over a dozen Ohio companies are benefiting from methane mitigation. Photo credit: Joshua Doubek/wikimedia.
October 3, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some Ohio companies are boosting their bottom lines and helping the climate by capturing and controlling methane gas released during oil and gas production. An economic analysis released by Environmental Defense Fund identifies hundreds of methane mitigation facilities nationwide, including over a dozen in Ohio, that are saving $1.8 billion annually in wasted methane.

Andrew Williams, regulatory and legislative affairs manager, Appalachian region, Environmental Defense Fund, says there are clear benefits of curbing dangerous methane emissions.

"Tackling the problem of methane emissions not only has the potential to produce cleaner air, but here it's showing the high possibility of creating good-paying, home-grown jobs, jobs in states like Ohio and states that are very skilled from the standpoint of manufacturing," he says.

Methane, when first released into the atmosphere, is a greenhouse gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide and the U.S. natural gas system is its largest industrial source, according to Williams. There are 16 methane mitigation facilities in Ohio that either build, sell or service methane controls to prevent or minimize emissions, or stop the gas from escaping.

The analysis was conducted by Datu Research. Report co-author Marcy Lowe says almost 60 percent of the methane mitigation companies in the report are small businesses that pay their workers well.

"These are really highly-skilled jobs with good pay," says Lowe. "It's worth noting that as the attention to methane increases, this is an opportunity for really good jobs and they're not the type of jobs you can outsource."

Craig W. Butler, Ohio EPA director, says the report "illustrates Ohio is at the forefront nationally, creating jobs and protecting the environment while reducing emissions from this new industry."

As natural gas production continues to climb, prospects are good for these companies and their workers, says Lowe.

"We looked at this as an emerging industry, even though a lot of these companies have existing oil and gas customers that they've had for years," she says. "This new focus on the role of methane emissions is very timely and I think the industry is set to grow."

Along with that growth, Lowe adds, better state and federal oversight is needed to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH