Report: 40% of Regional Methane Pollution Linked to "Super Emitters"
Friday, September 23, 2022
A relatively small number of so-called "super emitters" are responsible for 40% of the methane emissions in oil and gas hotspots such as California's Central Valley, according to a new report.
Experts from Carbon Mappers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and two universities in Arizona flew over the basin and measured the invisible gas with spectrometers.
Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, which co-authored the report, said the health of the planet depends on reducing methane emissions.
"Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas, more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it's emitted," he said. "So, getting these problems fixed, keeping this methane in the pipes and out of our air, is a really important way to bend the curve on climate change."
The Environmental Protection Agency is working on national regulations to require methane capture. Emissions from animal feedlots also play a role. The report found California has fewer super-emitters compared with other states that have weaker methane-capture rules.
Goldstein noted that technology exists to find and fix pipeline leaks or to capture excess gas instead of burning it off.
"It's a waste of resources. It's a big source of pollution that's leading to unhealthy air quality," he said. "It definitely is something that the oil and gas industry ought to be addressing."
Oil and gas companies have long complained that methane capture is time-consuming and expensive. However, a report from the International Energy Agency found that the industry could cut 45% of its methane emissions at no net cost to them.
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