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Energy Edge

When Will White House Complete Plan to Curb Methane Leaks?

February 14, 2014

When Will White House Complete Plan to Curb Methane Leaks?

A major new report finds that EPA is underestimating how much methane—a potent greenhouse gas—leaks from natural gas infrastructure.

The Stanford University-led study, published in the journal Science, concludes the problem is big enough that converting truck and bus fleets from diesel to natural gas probably worsens global warming.


Although the report does find that using natural gas for electricity is ultimately still more climate-friendly than burning coal, it nonetheless underscores the need to get a better handle on methane leaking from gas production, transportation, and related infrastructure.

"Reducing easily avoidable methane leaks from the natural-gas system is important for domestic energy security," said Robert Harriss of the Environmental Defense Fund, a coauthor. "As Americans, none of us should be content to stand idly by and let this important resource be wasted through fugitive emissions and unnecessary venting."

President Obama's second-term climate plan vows creation of an interagency strategy to help reduce methane emissions. But the White House has not revealed when it will be ready.

The new report underscores the tough problem they're grappling with as natural-gas development expands.

--Ben Geman



By Clare Foran (@ckmarie) and Mike Magner (@MagnerNJ)

OBAMA WANTS CONGRESS TO HELP WITH CLIMATE AGENDA AFTER ALL. The president's upcoming budget plan will propose a "Climate Resilience Fund."

METHANE RELEASE FROM GAS DEVELOPMENT MAY BE HIGHER THAN THOUGHT. A new study indicates that emissions of the potent greenhouse gas from natural-gas infrastructure could be significantly greater than EPA estimates.

AMID DEEP FREEZE, ONE SENATOR'S SUNNY OUTLOOK FOR CLIMATE LEGISLATION. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., believes pieces are falling into place that will make legislation viable in 2015 or 2016.

ADMINISTRATION TAKES ACTION ON DROUGHT. A number of executive-branch agencies will take steps designed to mitigate an ongoing drought in California.

WHITE HOUSE CLIMATE AIDE HEADS FOR THE EXITS. White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley plans to move back to California after leaving the administration.

OIL INDUSTRY RAILS AGAINST SULFUR LIMITS. Lobbyists for the industry say administration plans to set new limits on the amount of sulfur in gasoline could raise prices at the pump.

SOMETHING FISHY ON VALENTINE'S DAY: DOLPHIN LOVE. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society plans demonstrations in seven cities, including Washington, to protest ritual dolphin killings in Japan.

NATURAL-GAS PRICES SOAR. Meanwhile, natural-gas prices are being driven up by strong electricity demand, both in the U.S. and abroad. (Paywall)

GAS LINE EXPLODES IN KENTUCKY. A pipeline explosion in the state sent two people to the hospital and caused two homes to go up in flames.


Next week's National Journal's Energy & Environment Insiders discussion will ask, How safe and reliable is America's electric grid? With cold weather and cyberattacks threatening the country's electric grid, what more should Washington do to make sure the lights stay on?


SHALE EVENT. The Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a discussion on "U.S. Unconventional Gas Resources: A Reassessment of Supply/Demand Potential."

GEO-ENGINEERING DISCUSSION. The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs holds a discussion on "Hacking the Climate: Political and Ethical Issues with Geo-Engineering."

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