Feds eye new methane rules for public lands

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Feds aim to reduce methane emissions from natural gas production on public lands.

Common sense measures to help meet climate targets

Staff Report

Proposed federal rules could help slow the release of potent heat-trapping methane emissions from gas production on public and Native American lands.

Between 2009 and 2014, enough natural gas was lost through venting, flaring and leaks to power more than five million homes for a year. States, Tribes and federal taxpayers also lose royalty revenues when natural gas is wasted. According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report, taxpayers lose up to $23 million annually in royalty revenue. Continue reading

State of emergency declared at massive California gas leak

Escaping methane seen as climate disaster

The massive California gas leak is made visible by infrared imaging. Video courtesy Environmental Defense Fund.

Staff Report

More than two months after massive amounts of gas started leaking from a storage facility in Aliso Canyon, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency at the site, ordering state agencies to focus on protecting public health and stopping the flow.

The order is aimed at convincing the public that the state is doing all it can to protect public health and the environment by detailing the government’s ongoing effort to stop the leak.

Some environmental groups said Governor Brown’s declaration comes a little late in the game, and highlights the dangers of fossil fuels.

“This leak has been a state of emergency for the Porter Ranch community and the climate since day one. Governor Brown is right to call it such and to shut down the facility until it is made safe,” said Mark Brownstein, vice president of climate and energy with the Environmental Defense Fund.

At peak measurement, the leak was pumping 72 million cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere and causing, every day, as much climate damage in the next 20 years as 7 million cars on the road. Continue reading

Study tracks methane emission from streams

Snake River, Summit County Colorado

Freshwater streams disturbed by human activity are significant sources of heat-trapping methane pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Protecting water quality has climate benefits

Staff Report

Climate models may be significantly underestimating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by fresh water streams, researchers said in a new study released this week.

Published in the journal Ecological Monographs, the findings suggest that human disturbances on watersheds are a key factor in raising concentrations of methane, a particularly potent heat-trapping pollutant. Based on the research, the world’s rivers and streams pump about 10 times more methane into our atmosphere than previously estimated. Continue reading

Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough

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‘To fight global warming, we need real methane rules …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A slew of recent studies showing how heat-trapping methane emissions have been consistently underestimated apparently didn’t have a big impact on the EPA, which has proposed a voluntary program to try and cut atmospheric methane buildup, with some mandatory regulations still in the works.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (“Methane Challenge”) (PDF) (18 pp, 512K, About PDF) would provide a new mechanism enabling oil and gas companies cto track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. According to the EPA, the program is based on extensive stakeholder outreach and reflects a revision of EPA’s previously proposed Gas STAR Gold framework. Continue reading

Report says tackling methane leakage from oil and gas operations critical to meeting global greenhouse gas goals

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Tracking methane.

Global methane leaks totaled 3.5 trillion cubic feet in 2012

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on methane

FRISCO — Reducing methane leakage from drilling sites, pipelines and storage tanks represents a huge low-cost opportunity in the battle to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report that says 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas — worth about $30 billion — escaped from oil and gas sector operations in 2012.

The majority of oil and gas methane leakage comes from a handful of countries, with the top seven emitting countries responsible for over half of the global total in 2012. Despite the huge scale of the methane loss, very few have taken steps to regulate leakage from the oil and gas sector, or set specific goals to reduce emissions in the future. But the benefits of doing so would be considerable, according to the report.
Continue reading

Got methane? Four Corners air quality forum set to update public on latest research on fracking emissions

‘State-of-the-art research focused on the Four Corners area is vital to the understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and potential mitigation options’

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A satellite view of the Four Corners region, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When orbiting satellites identified a methane hotspot over the Four Corners region, it made headlines all over the world — a sure sign, it seems, that our insatiable quest for fossil fuels has a global footprint.

Next week, residents of the region will have a chance to learn more about how various agencies are looking at methane and other pollution issues associated with fracking during a forum hosted by the Four Corners Air Quality Group. Continue reading

Coal mining in a roadless area? Forest Service says, ‘Why not?’

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

State, feds to spend a ton of money for a new study and to fight subsequent lawsuits just to pump more Co2 and methane into the air

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — State and federal officials appear determined to let bulldozers punch into the rolling aspen forests of the Sunset Roadless Area southeast of Paonia.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service this week announced they’ll try to reinstate a contested Colorado exemption to a 2001 national roadless rule that virtually ended all logging, roadbuilding, and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing about 50 million acres across the country, including 4 million acres in Colorado.

Under unique Colorado provisions in a state version of the rule, a patch of the Sunset Roadless area was designated as a mining zone, authorizing temporary construction of roads to support future coal mining in the area, mainly by enabling construction of methane vents. Conservation advocates have been challenging those exemptions ever since. Continue reading

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