Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis

Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 15, 2019 SNIP: The methane emissions leaking from the world’s coalmines could be stoking the global climate crisis at the same rate as the shipping and aviation industries combined. Coalmines are belching millions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere unchecked, because policymakers have overlooked the rising climate threat, according to new research. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that the amount of methane seeping from new and disused coalmines may have reached just under 40m tonnes last year. The potent greenhouse gas is a major concern among climate scientists because it has a far more powerful effect on global temperatures than carbon dioxide. The global energy watchdog estimates that one tonne of methane is the climate equivalent of 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This would put annual coalmine emissions broadly in line with the international aviation and shipping sectors combined. The IEA revealed its shock findings in the same report which found carbon emissions from the global energy industry had reached a new record in 2018. Methane is also known to escape from oil and gas wells, which has prompted calls for tougher regulation of the industry to reduce the climate impact. To date, coalmines have managed to avoid similar scrutiny because of a lack of data. The IEA said that methane leakage from coalmines would prove more difficult to tackle than the methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, and added it did not expect the situation to improve before...
Subsea permafrost thaws faster than previously thought, Russian scientists say

Subsea permafrost thaws faster than previously thought, Russian scientists say

SOURCE: The Siberian Times DATE: October 28, 2019 SNIP: Unexpectedly high level of subsea permafrost degradation was recorded by a Russian-led scientific expedition that spent more than a month in the seas of the eastern Arctic. A record high methane gas emission in a shape of an underwater ‘fountain’ was registered at the beginning of October east of Bennett island in the East Siberian Sea. ‘It was a needle in a haystack chase, to find an exact place of a methane seep in dark sea waters, but we found it! ‘Just right off the Academician Keldysh scientists noticed a spot of emerald-coloured water, with gas rushing to surface in thousands of bubble threads’, said expedition member Sergey Nikiforov, a communications experts of the Tomsk Politechnical University. The area of the fountain covered about five metres, with water ‘so violently boiling with methane bubbles’ that scientists skipped using plastic cones for sampling and instead collected the gas in buckets. Unexpectedly high speed of degradation of subsea permafrost has been recorded. ‘In some areas the roof of subsea permafrost thawed to the stability horizons of gas hydrates. Moreover, it has been proved that over the past 30 years speed of vertical degradation of subsea permafrost doubled compared to previous centuries and reached 18 centimetres per year which is significantly higher than in earlier estimates‘, said professor Semiletov. ‘This result makes us reconsider the belief that subsea permafrost is stable and can only thaw by a few metres by the end of 21st century’, he stressed. Elena Kudryashova, rector of Northern Federal University, Arkhangelsk: ‘Another important subject of our research was study...
‘Extraordinarily Harmful’: In Disaster for Planet and Gift to Industry, New Trump Rule Would Gut Restrictions on Potent Methane Emissions

‘Extraordinarily Harmful’: In Disaster for Planet and Gift to Industry, New Trump Rule Would Gut Restrictions on Potent Methane Emissions

SOURCE: Common Dreams DATE: August 29, 2019 SNIP: Amid dire scientific warnings that the international community must act immediately to slash greenhouse gas emissions, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly set to take another step in the opposite direction Thursday by unveiling a rule that would gut restrictions on the fossil fuel industry’s methane pollution. According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposed rule change Thursday, the EPA’s plan would scrap regulations requiring the oil and gas industry to “install technologies that monitor and limit leaks from new wells, tanks and pipeline networks and to more frequently inspect for leaks.” “It would also forestall legal requirements that would have forced the EPA to set rules on emissions from thousands of pre-existing wells and industry sites,” the Journal reported. The Trump administration expects the rule, which must go through a 60-day public comment period, to take effect early next year. The rollback was immediately praised by the American Petroleum Institute, a major trade group representing the fossil fuel industry. Because of methane’s potency—some estimates suggest the greenhouse gas has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide—environmentalists and scientists have warned the Trump administration’s efforts to gut methane regulations could have disastrous consequences. Trump administration officials, and the president himself, have gleefully touted the White House’s success in ramping up American production of methane-emitting natural gas, which Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg infamously described as “molecules of U.S....
Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal

Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 2, 2019 SNIP: The booming liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry will play at least as big a role as new coal investments in bringing on a climate crisis if all planned projects go ahead, US-based energy analysts and campaigners say. The Global Energy Monitor, formerly known as CoalSwarm, is a US-based research and advocacy group that tracks fossil fuel development. It found there were US$1.3tn in planned LNG investments across the globe, including nearly $38bn in Australia, putting it fourth on a list behind the US, Canada and Russia. Ted Nace, the group’s executive director, said the proposed tripling of global LNG capacity risked introducing decades of emissions of methane, a potent and difficult-to-monitor greenhouse gas, at odds with the Paris climate agreement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year estimated methane emissions would need to be reduced by 35% between 2010 and 2050 to meet the Paris goals. Natural gas is at times described as a transition fuel in the response to the climate crisis as it has about half the carbon dioxide emissions of black coal when burned to generate electricity. That argument has been rejected by the head of the International Energy Agency and science bodies warning the world needs to rapidly move to clean energy and industries. Nace said it was difficult to compare emissions from coal and gas given their different nature. Gas has lower CO2 emissions than black coal when burned for electricity, but LNG developments also leak methane, which is a relatively short-lived gas that lasts in the atmosphere about 12 years but still has a...
Fertilizer plants emit 100 times more methane than reported

Fertilizer plants emit 100 times more methane than reported

SOURCE: EurekAlert! DATE: June 6, 2019 SNIP: Emissions of methane from the industrial sector have been vastly underestimated, researchers from Cornell University and Environmental Defense Fund have found. Using a Google Street View car equipped with a high-precision methane sensor, the researchers discovered that methane emissions from ammonia fertilizer plants were 100 times higher than the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate. They also were substantially higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate for all industrial processes in the United States. The use of natural gas has grown in recent years, bolstered by improved efficiency in shale gas extraction and the perception that natural gas is a less dirty fossil fuel. “But natural gas is largely methane, which molecule-per-molecule has a stronger global warming potential than carbon dioxide,” Albertson said. “The presence of substantial emissions or leaks anywhere along the supply chain could make natural gas a more significant contributor to climate change than previously thought.” To evaluate methane emissions from downstream industrial sources, the researchers focused on the fertilizer industry, which uses natural gas both as the fuel and one of the main ingredients for ammonia and urea products. Ammonia fertilizer is produced at only a couple dozen plants in the U.S.; factories are often located near public roadways, where emissions carried downwind can be detected – in this case by mobile sensors. For this study, the Google Street View vehicle traveled public roads near six representative fertilizer plants in the country’s midsection to quantify “fugitive methane emissions” – defined as inadvertent losses of methane to the atmosphere, likely due to incomplete chemical reactions during fertilizer production, incomplete fuel...