Right now, a lot of the methane created or extracted during other activities goes to waste.
Lawrence Berkeley Lab
On Friday, the Obama administration announced that it would be making a multi-pronged assault on the emissions of methane, the primary component of natural gas. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which means efforts to curb its release could affect the trajectory of climate change. But unlike carbon dioxide, it’s also a valuable fuel and chemical feedstock. Any efforts made to capture methane before it reaches the atmosphere will be rewarded with a valuable product.
Most of the attention paid to methane emissions is focused on the natural gas industry. To a certain extent, the drilling process and distribution through pipelines will inevitably lead to a certain amount of loss. Some of the practices adopted by the drilling industry, however, simply allow methane to be vented to the atmosphere even though alternate techniques would enable its capture.
The EPA currently has a “Natural Gas STAR” program that’s a bit like its voluntary Energy STAR standards. But it recently revamped its estimates of incidental emissions, and the EPA will begin the process of determining whether new regulations can further decrease the losses. The Bureau of Land Management will also re-examine its current regulations on the release of methane during oil and gas drilling on public lands.
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