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☁️ "The Methane Hunters"


Photo by Flash Dantz / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Noam Hassenfeld
Guests: Rebecca Leber | Climate Journalist,
Riley Duren | CEO | Carbon Mapper &
Miguel Escoto | Activist
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:15] RL: “Methane is this colorless, tasteless gas. It's the gas used in your gas stove, your gas heater, but it's also used to make fuel. […] It is a pollutant just generally. It makes air pollution a lot worse, but also, it's a powerful greenhouse gas.”

[6:00] RL: “Methane is extremely potent as a climate pollutant. It is more than 80 times more effective at trapping heat over a short period, when you compare it to carbon dioxide. […] Which makes it such a big problem, because it's also rising and the number two climate pollutant in the world right after carbon dioxide.”

[6:34] RL: “If you consider greenhouse gasses to be this curtain around the planet trapping heat, some are a lot lighter than others. So methane is just this really thick blanket that's opaque and trapping that heat and warming the planet. […] The good news is methane also dissipates a lot faster than carbon dioxide does.

[7:02] RD: “Methane is short lived. It only lasts in the atmosphere about 10 years, which is much shorter than CO2, which lasts for hundreds of years. So one way to think about it is it's compressed into a short period of time, it packs a really big punch.”

[7:34] RL: “CO2 is this inevitable byproduct of everything we do. It just is produced from burning fossil fuels. But with methane, we're just letting a lot of gas escape into the atmosphere unnecessarily. It's basically just leaking. […] Methane can come from a lot of different sources. Wetlands naturally vent it, there's agriculture, cows. […] There's your stove and your heat. There's landfills and then there's fuel. […] So it's really hard for scientists to pin down exactly what percentage of our methane is coming from where.  But what we do know is that oil and gas production is a huge part of this pie.”

[9:13] RL: “So a key thing to know is that whenever you frack and whenever you drill for gas, you are inevitably venting a certain amount of methane. Ideally, we're doing that in smaller quantities. But what's actually happening is we have these major super emitters.”

[10:13] ME: “When we talk about the regulation of this industry, we have to talk about who has eyes on the sites. […] You have about 300,000 oil and gas wells. And the statistic is that there is about one regulator, one inspector for every 3000 oil and gas facilities. […] Just to have eyes on the facilities, just to have eyes, we would need to hire an army.”

[14:12] RL: “There are two major ways [of identifying super emitters]. First is sniffing the air. […] The other approach is something called remote sensing. This is an approach to use a spectrometer, which is basically reflecting sunlight and uses all the visible and invisible colors in that spectrum to figure out what gasses are present in the atmosphere or on the surface of the Earth.”

[17:42] RL: “The trickiest question [is] what to do about it. It's not as simple as just calling the oil company up and reporting this because we don't have a ton of environmental enforcement here. The EPA is just now working on a proposal for how to cut back on methane emissions from facilities. So their regulation is still a really long way from actually enforcing more of these cuts. And methane is not just a U.S. problem, it's a global issue.”

[18:26] RL: “At [the] last climate conference in Glasgow this fall more than 100 countries joined this side global agreement that says they're going to cut their methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. […] They don't specify energy production, but the implied part is if you're going to tackle methane emissions and you are a big oil and gas producer, you have to start with the energy sector. […] This was a huge breakthrough. Just because we had so many world leaders say this is a huge problem and we have to take action, but there's still a long way to go to actually filling in those blanks of how do you cut back on methane? And a lot of big countries like China and Russia haven't even signed on.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 23 min | 🗓️ 02/16/2022
✅ Time saved: 21 min