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Report: Stopping Natural Gas Leaks Good For Economy, Climate

PHOTO: Stopping natural gas leaks is good for the economy and the environment, according to a new Environmental Defense Fund report. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
PHOTO: Stopping natural gas leaks is good for the economy and the environment, according to a new Environmental Defense Fund report. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
October 3, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Regulating natural gas emissions would help the environment and also bolster New Mexico's economy. That's the conclusion of a new report entitled "The Emerging U.S. Methane Mitigation Industry" from the Environmental Defense Fund. Jon Goldstein is senior energy policy manager at EDF. He says research shows leaking methane, the main component in natural gas, is costing oil and gas companies an estimated $1.8 billion per year in lost product. He says there are a growing number of companies in New Mexico that are in the business of stopping the leaks.

"We might be talking about special kinds of valves and other fittings that reduce emissions," Goldstein says. "We might be talking about infrared cameras that are used to go out and detect leaks so folks can fix them. Things like that."

Goldstein adds, New Mexico ranks among the top 10 states for oil and gas production and has a growing methane gas mitigation industry.

He says state or federal regulations making methane gas mitigation mandatory would help New Mexico's economy by creating more work in an emerging industry. Goldstein adds, it also would help reduce harmful emissions from entering the air we breathe.

"Methane, in the short term, is a far more potent greenhouse gas even than carbon dioxide. So, to the extent we can find and fix these leaks quickly, we're going to have a real positive impact on the climate that you and I, and our children, are going to be living with," says Goldstein

The analysis was conducted by Datu Research, and president 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."

According to the study, about one-quarter of today's man-made global warming is caused by methane emissions. The Environmental Defense Fund is advocating state and federal regulations to reduce methane gas emissions linked to the oil and gas industry.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM