Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Manhattan's Methane Levels Show Natural Gas as Damaging to Climate as Other Fossil Fuels

Energy
Manhattan's Methane Levels Show Natural Gas as Damaging to Climate as Other Fossil Fuels

Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) commissioned a preliminary investigation by Gas Safety, Inc. in November and December of 2012 of fugitive emissions of natural gas in Manhattan to better understand gas distribution systems in the context of global climate concerns. The methane measurements in Manhattan indicated many leaks, some intense. Very few measurements indicated normal background methane levels.

The preliminary report indicates Manhattan sits in a cloud of elevated levels of methane. The extended report reviews existing estimates and estimating procedures of methane emissions by industry, government and other sources (including the Environmental Protection Agency/Gas Research Institute 1996 method). Based on those reviews DCS concludes that those estimates are so inaccurate as to be almost useless—in fact, misleading.

The actual measurements in this report, added to measured production losses and estimated transmission losses, shows a total gas loss above five percent. This number is well above the critical benchmark level of less than 3.2 percent, at which level natural gas no longer retains an advantage over other forms of fossil fuels with regard to climate change. Since natural gas is 93 percent methane, and methane is more than 20 times more potent a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) than CO2, the level of leakage shows natural gas should not be considered a "bridge fuel."

"The methane leakage in the system serving NYC through ConEd is likely already at a level where the methane leaked has as much, or more, climate impact as the remaining approximately 95 percent of the gas that is actually usefully burned by consumers in NYC," said Dr. Bryce Payne, one of the authors of the Gas Safety, Inc. study.

This report takes a simple innovative approach using actual measurements that concludes there is no advantage to natural gas over coal or oil. The authors developed a rapid assessment method based on actual methane measurements and meteorological data that was used to generate an estimate of total methane emissions in Manhattan. This emissions estimate made it possible to assess the relative impact of gas service in Manhattan, most importantly in the broader context of GHG and climate change.

In addition, there are other issues, including the extra cost to consumers of loss of product, damage to trees and other organisms, danger of explosion and toxicity to underground workers, and the public health threat of constantly escaping natural gas evidenced by elevated methane levels. (Remember, natural gas is a mixture of mostly methane, but also varying quantities of BETX, PAH, other VOCs, H2S, CO2 and radioactive radon and radon decay products).

There is an increasing awareness of methane as a potent greenhouse gas and its role in climate change. Because natural gas generates less carbon dioxide when burned, it has been considered a cleaner energy source than other fossil fuels. However, to look at the emission levels from burning alone is to hide natural gas' total greenhouse impact. Since methane leaks into the atmosphere during extraction, transport and delivery to the consumer, what was once assumed to be a small footprint is, in reality, a very significant gas carbon footprint.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

 

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch