Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough



‘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


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.
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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’


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

Widespread stream monitoring needed in fracking zones

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Methane found in stream near faulty Pennsylvania natural gas well

Staff Report

FRISCO — Gathering baseline water quality data from streams in fracking zones could help pinpoint impacts to drinking water, researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Geological Survey said after finding high levels of methane in a Pennsylvania stream.

Multiple samples from the stream, Sugar Run in Lycoming County, showed a groundwater inflow of thermogenic methane, consistent with what would be found in shale gas. The samples came from an area near the site of a reported Marcellus shale gas well leak. Continue reading

Environment: Methane emissions from pipelines declining


Concentrations of heat-trapping methane are increasing Earth’s atmosphere.

Better materials and new regs drive drop in natural gas leakage

Staff Report

FRISCO — Despite recent findings of massive natural gas leakage from Boston’s distribution system, researchers say that, overall, methane emissions from cities and towns throughout the U.S. have decreased in the past 20 years — with significant variation by region.

Altogether, natural gas leaks from pipelines and other facilities add up to the equivalent of emissions from about 7 million cars, a significant amount, but lower than EPA estimates. Continue reading

Fracking: New aerial research to track pollutants above western fossil fuel development zones

Sensitive instruments to track methane, VOCs and other airborne toxins from New Mexico to North Dakota

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A recent study of satellite data showing a hotspot of potent heat-trapping methane pollution over the Four Corners region makes it clear that we’re digging an ever-deeper global warming hole by fracking every last corner of the country.

As NOAA put it, “Vast regions west of the Mississippi River are under development for oil and gas extraction … but while one focus is on what comes out of the ground, NOAA and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences researchers and their colleagues are studying what escapes to the air—and how it is transformed in the atmosphere and affects air quality and climate.

Scientists hope to learn much more about the massive quantities of pollution escaping from fossil fuel development areas in the next few months as they launch this year’s  Shale Oil and Natural Gas Nexus (SONGNEX 2015) field campaign, using airborne instruments to measure greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions.

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