Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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:

 

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less
Woodpecker

Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.

Read More Show Less