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House committee hears testimony on efforts to reduce methane pollution

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House committee hears testimony on efforts to reduce methane pollution
A House committee on Friday heard testimony on the reduction of methane emissions from oil and gas wells, as well as the climate, economic and jobs benefits from efforts to clean them up. File Photo by ekina/Shutterstock

June 24 (UPI) -- The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing on efforts to cut methane pollution while creating new jobs on Friday morning.

They reviewed community perspectives on the public health, climate, jobs and economic benefits of cutting methane pollution from oil and gas infrastructure.

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The committee got testimony from Patrice Tomcik, senior national field manager, Moms Clean Air Force; Sarah Ann Smith, chief of programs of Clean Air Task Force; and Dr. Caroline Alden, co-founder and vice president of product and markets with LongPath Technologies.

In a written copy of her testimony submitted to the committee, Tomcik, senior national field manager, Moms Clean Air Force said, "Methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for over a quarter of current global warming, and the oil and gas sector is the nation's largest industrial source of methane pollution. In the US, it is estimated that the oil and gas industry emits more than 16 million metric tons of methane pollution annually - the equivalent of the climate pollution from all of the nation's passenger vehicles in a year."

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She said it's important that Congress properly funds the EPA to enforce the rules on methane to protect the health of communities.

"Reducing methane and VOC emissions will directly reduce the health risks associated with ground-level ozone," Sarah Ann Smith's written testimony said. "Epidemiologically derived research suggests that methane-induced changes in ground-level ozone levels can impact air quality, human health, and even agricultural productivity. Reducing methane emissions can therefore change ground-level ozone levels in ways that provide significant value to society, including reduced risks of adverse health impacts."

Dr. Alden told the committee in her prepared testimony that "continuous monitoring" of methane is important because it "affords rapid repair, such that cumulative emissions to the atmosphere are tens to hundreds of times lower" than survey approaches to measuring methane levels.

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She said "Methane leaks from oil and gas operations are unpredictable. They can happen anywhere and at any time, and they can also be intermittent, meaning leak sizes can change over hours or days.Finally, methane leak plumes are invisible and odorless. These characteristics make leaks of methane from oil and gas operations very difficult to catch without advanced technologies."

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In January, the Biden administration announced new actions in line with the Methane Emissions Reduction Action plan to tackle methane emissions and support a clean energy economy.

The actions, which were part of the new infrastructure law, included the Interior Department announcing $1.15 billion for states to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells, a significant source of methane emissions.

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The Department of Energy also announced the launch of a Methane Reduction Infrastructure Initiative to provide technical assistance to the orphaned well clean-up efforts of federal agencies, states and tribes.

In April, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that methane emissions, the second biggest threat to human-caused global warming after carbon dioxide, rose again to a record level in 2021.

NOAA said it based its findings on an analysis of data from its global sampling network.

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