Will Obama’s ‘fugitive methane’ plan work?

Writing in The Conversation, Nathan Phillips observes that  a first glance, President Obama’s proposal to reduce leaks of methane gas from oil and gas drilling looks impressive: the goal is to reduce the national methane leak rate 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. And because Phillips and colleagues have developed new methods to detect and map leaks very precisely, we have the technology to find and fix methane leaks across the entire natural gas process chain, from hydraulic fracturing well pads to the pipelines running under our streets and sidewalks.   But Phillips notes that conspicuously absent from the Obama plan Before is the description natural gas as a less-polluting alternative to coal and a “bridge” to an economy run on renewable energy. Now, that language is missing.   This has important implications for greenhouse gas reduction, and here is just one regional example.   An analysis by the Conservation Law Foundation indicates that even a greatly reduced leak rate, if accompanied by an increased dependency on natural gas as an energy source for heating homes and providing electricity, the state of Massachusetts will not be able to achieve its stated policy of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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