John Spezia: The methane myth
November 26, 2018
Deceptive information around the causes and effects of climate change makes it easy for the oil and gas industry, its scientists for hire and partisan politicians to muddy the issue.
Industry touted natural gas as a "bridge fuel" on the path to cleaner, more sustainable fuel sources, but climate change has accelerated beyond what most climate science predicted. Science has focused on carbon dioxide, but recently, the first peer-reviewed study looked at the climate impacts of methane from fracking-related oil and gas development. When this study was released, it warned that fracked gas and oil was not a suitable bridge fuel.
Past information available about fracked gas has used outdated information about its potential to warm the planet compared to CO2. Some of this misinformation states that the methane released by fracking is "only" 30 times as powerful as carbon dioxide gas over 100 years.
According to Scientific American, "Methane warms the planet on steroids for a decade or two before decaying to CO2 … Short-lived climate pollutants (like methane) that we emit from human activities (mainly oil and gas production) are basically controlling how fast the warming occurs."
Methane is so harmful that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined it is 86 to 100 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period. An immediate reduction in methane pollution would give us more time to deal with the carbon dioxide threat.
While natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it is by no means clean. Infrared video photos of a "state-of-the-art" gas-fired power plant in Texas show multiple methane leaks. No matter how clean they burn, gas and oil emit so much methane during production, they are at least as bad — and probably worse — for the climate than coal.
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We now know that the reason why historic climate change models have been so far off is because climate scientists didn't properly account for methane pollution, which is making climate change accelerate. Past experiences have shown us that the oil and gas industry won't reform voluntarily.
The Trump administration is weakening the 2015 Methane Rule so it would release an additional 380,000 tons of methane and 100,000 tons of volatile organic compounds that will affect your health.
Please comment by Dec. 15 to the EPA for the proposed rule change at regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0483-0005. Be sure to label your comments with the Docket #EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0483-0005.