by Marlee Kokotovic
August 16, 2016
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A recent NASA study confirmed that a methane “hot spot,” found in New Mexico, is linked to leaks from natural gas extraction, processing, and distribution.
The 2,500-square mile hot spot, located in the Four Corners region of the southwest United States, is more than triple a standard ground-based estimate and is a huge contributor to global warming.
Methane, which has been found in the area, is odorless, colorless and invisible to the naked eye and is the second most predominant greenhouse gas emitted by human activity in the U.S. “It’s a very strong greenhouse gas and traps heat really effectively,” Colm Sweeney, the lead scientist for the NOAA Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program, said. “It’s like putting an inch of insulation in your attic versus putting 100 inches of insulation in your attic with the same amount of CO2.”
“NASA’s finding that the oil and gas industry is primarily responsible for the ‘hot spot’ is not surprising,” said the Western Environmental Law Center. “In fact, the researchers found only one large source of methane not related to oil and gas operations: venting from the San Juan coal mine. This discovery renders attempts to point the finger at other potential emissions sources, like coal outcrops and landfills, definitively refuted.”
New oil and gas methane standards from the EPA and the Bureau of Land Management are currently in the works which will help the environment. It will require the industry to cut its methane emissions from all sources.