OCTOBER 01, 2021


  • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Throughout the first decade after it enters the atmosphere methane, due to its molecular structure, traps infrared radiation 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. Avoiding one ton of methane emissions is the equivalent of cutting 86 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

  • So, what is the best way to avoid methane buildup? In the USA there are 94 million burping and farting cows discharging this highly destructive greenhouse gas. But are they the main villains? Actually no. They are responsible for 27%. The natural gas and petroleum industry adds another 30%. Then comes rotting landfills with 17%, manure management 9%, coal mining 7% and others 9% like rice paddies and wetlands.

  • Far more methane is still routinely spewing from the vast web of oil and gas extraction, transportation and processing infrastructure. That amount, in turn, is dwarfed by the mind-boggling quantity of methane intentionally released via flaring or venting at oil wells. Totalling 1.89 bn metric tons yearly all of these emissions and leaks have caused atmospheric methane concentrations to surge since 2007, jeopardizing the status that natural gas holds as being more climate-friendly than coal.

  • In the United States there have been over 1,000 ruptures, punctures and leaks reported over the last decade by the operators of interstate natural gas transmission lines, which together disgorged massive volumes of methane into the atmosphere.

  • Reducing methane emissions from fossil fuel operations by repairing leaks and upgrading equipment is “one of the best near-term opportunities for limiting the worst effects of climate change,” according to the International Energy Agency. 70% could be fixed with current technology and much of it at no net cost to the producers.

  • It would certainly be a better use of the $139.6 million that the oil and gas industry and its advocacy groups donated to political campaigns in 2020 alone.

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