Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Methane Emissions
https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/methanebudget/index.htm

Natural Gas

Methane: Lying Liars And The Lies They Tell Us

The natural gas industry says publicly that methane emissions are minuscule and under control. But what they say in private is very different.

Methane and natural gas are one and the same for all intents and purposes — methane represents about 90% of what we customarily call natural gas. It burns cleaner than coal, which is why it is billed by the industry as a “bridge fuel to the future.” In other words, while the world waits for renewables and energy storage to replace thermal generation, burning natural gas is better than burning coal.

Oil and gas have a strange relationship. Some companies drill for natural gas but others drill for oil. Unfortunately, natural gas and oil often occur in the same locations. When oil is found, the natural gas is released but oil drillers don’t want it. They have made no provisions for capturing it, compressing it, or transporting it. For them, it is a nuisance and so they allow it to vent directly into the atmosphere or burn it onsite. Either way it is wasted in a way that has dire consequences for the environment.

Methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide but it is up to 80 times more powerful when it comes to trapping heat than CO2. In other words, the people who release the methane recklessly into the air are subjecting us all to more wildfires, rising seas, and powerful storms because there are no laws preventing them from doing so. According to NASA, about 25% of the increase in average global temperatures since the start of the Industrial Revolution are attributable to an increase in methane in the atmosphere, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Under President Obama, the federal government instituted regulations that would restrict the ability of the oil and gas industry to release methane into the atmosphere but those regulations made extracting natural gas more expensive. The larger energy companies generally supported such regulations but the smaller companies, the ones who drill hundreds of new fracked wells a year and then move on, complained bitterly about the new rules. There complaints found a sympathetic reception with an Environmental Protection Agency overloaded with fossil fuel industry advocates, who moved aggressively to roll back the Obama era rules.

The industry told the EPA that methane leaks were not a big issue, that they had the problem well under control. But they lied to the government. At the same time they were saying officially methane leaks were minuscule, they were privately admitting to themselves that such leaks were a huge problem. The penalty for lying to the government? So far, nothing. While we watch in horror as the California, Oregon, and Washington burn, these people conspired among themselves to make the problem of an overheating planet worse so they can continue to make money. Their conduct may not be illegal but it is definitely despicable.

A Secret Recording

We wouldn’t know anything about this if one member of the group had not made an audio recording of a meeting a year ago of the Independent Petroleum Association. While the group was telling the EPA there was nothing to worry about, they were telling themselves something entirely different. Recently, the person who made the recording make it available to what the New York Times calls “an organization to tracking climate policy.” Neither the official who made the recording nor the organization involved wish to be publicly identified for fear of reprisals.

The recording runs for an hour and 22 minutes and it provides some startling revelations. According to the New York Times, which has listened to the audio, Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, told those in attendance, “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas. This pesky natural gas. The value of it is very minimal.”

And yet, a few months later, James D. Elliott, a lawyer representing a coalition of oil and gas groups led by the Independent Petroleum Association including the North Dakota Petroleum Council, sent a letter to the EPA saying, “The oil and natural gas industry has a pure economic incentive to prevent every molecule of ‘pollutant’ from escaping to the atmosphere.” Elliot was partially correct, which is how lies get told without being obvious. Companies that drill for gas do have an economic incentive to collect and sell as much of it as they can. But to oil producers, it is just a nuisance, one they can’t be bothered to do anything about. Because our economic system imposes no obligation to include the cost of the harm done by industry, those costs cans simply be ignored.

Ness said flaring is a “huge, huge threat” to an industry public relations program that promotes natural gas as a bridge fuel to the future. The problem, he said, is all these young people who get their knickers in a knot over global warming. How can they be handled so they don’t queer the deal for drillers making a ton of money doing what they do? “What’s our message going forward?” he asks. “What’s going to stick with those young people and make them support oil and gas?” In public, Ness has called the stronger rules put in place by the Obama administration “an unnecessary burden,” saying the industry already produced “valuable energy resources in a responsible manner.” What is responsible in Mr. Ness’ view may seem highly irresponsible to others, especially those who prefer to leave a habitable world to their heirs.

Ryan Flynn of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, told the meeting, “Young voters, female voters, Hispanic voters, really every sector except for older conservative male voters…..their No. 1 issue when it comes to our industry is always going to be environmental stewardship, and concerns about what we’re doing with the environment.”

Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, made the groups problem with young people even plainer. “Hippies were going to change the world, until they wanted to get a job and buy a BMW. In Colorado, we’ve been kind of playing a game of whack-a-mole. We went from where fracking was the dirty word and contaminated your water. And we inundated them with information about that and blitzed the TV airwaves. Then slowly that changed into a health and safety messaging. And so we’re ramping up our health and safety messaging.”

Climate change is “the prism through which everything is being viewed,” Haley said. “We have to be comfortable talking about it, talking about how we are part of the solution through natural gas. And again, hitting people with emotions hitting them where they’re where their heart is.” Those damned activists don’t play fair, he complained.  “They don’t show explosions. They don’t show rigs. They show women and children. We have got to begin playing at that same emotional level or we will not win these battles.” Is Haley really saying the fight to save the human race from extinction is just a distraction from the main job of all business — to make a profit by whatever means necessary?

Scott Prestidge, a spokesman for Haley, told the New York Times his comment about about hippies was “said tongue-in-cheek.” He added, “In Colorado, the men and women of this industry live and work within the communities where oil and natural gas are being developed. They care about clean air, clean water, and in protecting their family’s safety and their community.” Sure they do, Scott. Just as long as they can continue to do business as usual, they sleep peacefully at night knowing what they do for a living will impact the health and safety of their children in years to come. Doesn’t get any more caring than that.

Vote For The Earth

In less than 2 months, you will have a chance to vote for a president who will throw the oil and gas prostitutes out of the EPA and restore some semblance of reality to America’s approach to our overheating planet. If there was a computer program that let you design your ideal presidential candidate, would it be Joe Biden? Probably not. But the alternative is an administration that continues to give the fossil fuel industry everything it asks for and jeopardizes the future of our planet. This election is not about flesh eating Democratic pedophiles or whether we should all be mainlining Clorox to fight the pandemic, it is about restoring respect and dignity to America and addressing climate change in a sober, serious, and effective fashion. Please do your part. Vote!

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Cruise Talks Autonomous Driving Tech, Regulations, & Auto Design

New Podcast: Battery Mineral Mining Policies & Regional Trends

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Clean Transport

Methane leaks are a major problem in the US and beyond. In order to better identify and track greenhouse gas leaks in the country,...

Batteries

102 Projects Across America will Receive Seed Funding to Launch New Ideas to Market That Will Create Jobs

Climate Change

By now, every human with an intelligence quotient equal to your average armadillo knows that burning oil, coal, and natural gas to power our...

Climate Change

Senate Democrats plan to nullify the Trump administration’s rollbacks of methane regulations via the Congressional Review Act. The relatively obscure process will reinstate the Obama...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.