Methane is sometimes the forgotten greenhouse gas, as people talk about carbon footprints and melting glaciers. Methane does contribute to global warming, and on August 18th a report showed an unexpected increase of 18% of U.S. methane emissions. We are acting, though. The same day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed cutting methane emissions, in conjunction with a prior strengthening of methane regulations in 2012.
Methane Gas, a brief overview
Methane gas emissions, often the by-product of mining or drilling for gas and oil, are a particularly dangerous contributor to the climate change problem. Although it disperses much quicker than carbon dioxide, methane is 25 times more powerful in terms of trapping heat. The EPA as well as the natural gas industry itself have made it a goal to cut down on equipment leaks and waste.
The new proposal targets gathering facilities, the first step in the natural gas production line. Specifically, it requires a reduction in emissions by all new or newly modified gathering sites. One example of a proposed change is using compressed air instead of methane gas to open and close certain types of valves. If successful, the EPA is confident that up to 50% of emissions can be cut out of this process. With the rapid approach of the Paris Climate Change Conference, it is more important than ever for every country and sector to do its part to reduce emissions.