While energy conservation, reducing fossil fuel combustion to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is important to combat climate change, another GHG of importance is methane (CH4), which is 21 times more potent than CO2. CH4 emissions do not derive from combustion, but instead from natural decomposition activities, such as at farms or from municipal waste degrading in landfills. Methane is the main component of natural gas. Therefore, capture of CH4 from decomposition processes and use of it as a fuel not only releases a much less potent GHG into the atmosphere, but also displaces use of a fuel that otherwise would have been used. As part of its Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration recently issued the document: “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions”: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/strategy_to_reduce_methane_emissions_2014-03-28_final.pdf
According to the document, CH4 emissions currently account for nearly 9% of all US GHG emissions, and is expected to increase if no new action is taken. Common CH4 emission sources include solid waste landfills, coal mines, agriculture, and oil & gas. Here is a summary of proposals to reduce CH4 emissions in the Methane document.
• Landfills: Later this year, the USEPA is expected to propose updated standards to reduce CH4 emissions from new and existing landfill. The USEPA will continue its Landfill Methane Outreach program to promote voluntary projects to recover CH4 generated at landfills and use it for energy. The USEPA will also continue its nationwide efforts to encourage reduction of solid waste generation (which mainly ends up at landfills), such as the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
• Coal Mines: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is expected to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on developing a program for capturing, selling, and/or disposing of waste mine CH4 produced on Federal government lands through coal and other solid mineral leases. The USEPA will continue to promote voluntary recovery and beneficial use of CH4 from coal mines, such as capture and combustion as a fuel.
• Agriculture: The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy are expected to issue a “Biogas Roadmap” shortly, providing voluntary strategies for implementing technologies for reducing all GHGs from this sector, including encouraging the use of anaerobic digestion and biogas (CH4) utilization systems.
• Oil & Gas: The USEPA is expected to issue white papers developed by independent experts on how to reduce GHG emissions from the oil & gas industry, focusing on reducing both VOCs and CH4, and use this to decide on potential future rules or voluntary programs, probably this fall. If the USEPA decides the regulatory route, such proposed rules are expected to be issued by late 2016. The USEPA will continue to promote its Natural Gas STAR Program which encourages practices to reduce CH4 and other emissions. In addition, BLM is expected to publish a proposed rule to regulate venting and flaring from oil & gas wells on Federal government land. The DOE plans to issue its Quadrennial Energy Review in early 2015 to recommend actions for improving energy transmission, storage, and distribution, including opportunities to abate CH4 emissions.
CCES has the expertise and experience to assist you in determining your complete GHG emissions and develop cost-effective strategies to reduce it in such a way to reduce your expenses and increase productivity to make back the money you’ve spent and have long-term gains and benefits. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.
Marc Karell, P.E., CEM, Principal, Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC
Reprinted with permission by CCES
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