Leaky Pipes Increasing Methane Emissions

While fracking makes headlines for causing contamination or earthquakes, among various other things, its $1.5 billion in methane emissions are scarcely known. These methane emissions aren’t caused by fracking itself, but from leaky pipes in natural gas production. Methane makes up only 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but is 20 percent stronger than carbon dioxide, making it a huge threat to the environment, possibly more than the use of coal, according to the Energy Department and the World Resources Institute.

So how can the pipes get fixed? It’s actually quite easy to get the pipes repaired, but who does it is the question. The gas in the pipes belongs to the natural gas producer, however the pipeline itself is owned by an independent operator that would have no advantage in repairing the pipes. It’s difficult to detect methane emissions and without knowing exactly how much methane is escaping, companies would be wary of paying for the repairs.

The other problem is that methane emissions are not regulated by the EPA. Obama formed new requirements for capturing hydraulic fracturing emissions using technologies, but these do not recognize methane. There is a push for the Clean Air Act because it monitors all greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, in addition to offering the Natural Gas STAR rewards for companies that take action. Getting the EPA involved is probably the best way to get the problem under control.

Read the full article on Grist.

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