Methane Menace

More discussion on the Methane Leaks/fossil fuel issues.

Feint (say squirrel) to confuse or distract.

From Lee Brown, Exec of the CA Construction Truckers:

I remind you that methane has a greater effect on radiant heat trapping per weight, but that methane is present in the ambient air at less than 2 Parts Per Million, so these ominous sounding pronouncements from the methane leak paper are intentionally deceitful when they speak of “methane is Leaking at rates 1.25 to 1.75 times higher than the official EPA Estimates.” First The EPA has no idea about the magnitude of the industrial and usage leaks.

Second–leaks are a small contributor to naturally occurring methane in the ambient air from vents and other sources.

Third, 1.25 to 1.75 greater leaks than EPA official estimates is still small amounts, even if it is a real number instead of a number picked by the authors as what the audience will bear.

Let’s assume the leaks are some small segment of the naturally occurring methane, given that methane is everywhere and leaks out of the ground. The industrial and consumer leaks is certainly much less than 1 PPM so the net effect is much less than 1 ppm and brings the ambient level up to what? With what effect?

I do believe this paper is an intentionally deceptive thing, since anyone can say that the leaks are greater than the Official EPA estimates–my goodness, how reliable could such estimates be anyway?

So here’s Lee’ email, along with his notes

Subject: Natural gas worse on the environment than diesel claim the enviro scientists

Study Finds Methane Leaks Lower Gas’ Climate Benefits
Posted: February 13, 2014

Department of Energy (DOE) researchers and other academics are poised to publish a study saying EPA has “consistently underestimated” how much of the potent greenhouse gas (GHG) methane leaks from the natural gas sector, which may undermine proponents’ claims about the major climate benefits of the fuel compared to coal.

But although the researchers behind the study, set for publication in the Feb. 14 issue of the journal Science, found methane is leaking at rates 1.25 to 1.75 times higher than then official EPA estimates, using the upwardly revised estimates of methane leaks would still find “robust climate benefits” from switching from coal to natural gas in the power sector, potentially undercutting attacks from the coal sector that the shift to natural gas is counterproductive.

A coal industry official, however, says the study “at the very least” calls into question the credibility of EPA’s decision in its proposed utility climate rule to set stringent carbon limits on coal-fired power plants that will force them to install carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology while imposing few limits on natural gas plants.

EPA in its utility new source performance standards limited most gas plants to emitting 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (lbs/MWh), with coal-fired plants having to meet a limit of 1,100 lbs/MWh that can only be met by installing CCS, a costly technology. If methane leaks from the gas sector are large enough, however, gas utilities might an overall emit much higher levels of GHGs, diminishing the climate benefits.

The peer-reviewed study, “Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems”, was conducted largely by academic and government researchers, with authors from Stanford University, Harvard University, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the State Department, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Funding came from a Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation grant, with the study saying that Mitchell “pioneered hydraulic fracturing and believed that this technology should be pursued in ecologically sound ways.”

The study found that hydraulic fracturing — the drilling technique that has unlocked large amounts of natural gas and oil across the country — is unlikely to be a “dominant contributor” to the total amount of methane leaks in the United States.

Instead, the large amounts of leaking methane were found to come from the production, processing and distribution of natural gas. In particular, the study says a small number of “super emitters” at well sites, gas processing plants, distribution systems and other areas may be to blame for emitting large amounts of methane, as it cites one study that found 48 percent of methane emissions came from just 0.06 percent of possible sources.

The researchers developed their revised estimates by reviewing a number of studies that looked at methane leaks on scales ranging from individual devices to entire continents, and found that in general there is a “poor understanding” of which natural gas sector sources are emitting excess methane.

The study offers a number of reasons for why EPA may be underestimating methane emissions. It says the devices sampled to come up with the “emission factors” the agency uses in its estimates may not be based on current technology and are generally out-of-date with the major shifts in new natural gas production practices like fracking.

Other problems include the high cost of developing emission factors and the potential for sampling bias, given that “sampling has occurred at self-selected cooperating facilities.”

The study’s findings could offer a boost to environmentalists and others who have argued that the Obama administration has not been doing enough to regulate the booming natural gas sector. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and other environmentalists last March petitioned EPA to improve and update its reporting methods for greenhouse gases from the natural gas sector.

The study joins the advocates in their possible concerns about the switch to natural gas from coal, which is seeing as having higher GHG emissions, saying that if “natural gas is to be a ‘bridge’ to a more sustainable energy future, it is a bridge that must be traversed carefully” to ensure that leakage rates are low enough.

An EPA spokeswoman says the agency has not yet had an opportunity to review the study but is “committed to using the best available data,” adding that studies like the one published in Science and in the agency’s GHG reporting program would help the agency continue to improve its methane emission estimates.

“EPA is aware of methane studies that result in estimates of national methane emissions that differ from EPA’s estimates, and is interested in feedback on how information from such studies can be used to improve U.S. GHG Inventory estimates,” the spokeswoman says.

Trying to clamp down on methane leaks is “both a challenge and an opportunity,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said recently, and she indicated that EPA’s comprehensive strategy to limit methane emissions would be released this spring.

The gas sector, aware of the growing criticisms about the climate impacts from leaking methane, has attempted to switch to so-called “green completion” technology in hydraulic fracturing, among other efforts.

A spokesman from the American Gas Association — who had not yet seen the Science study — says that the country’s gas utilities “take the issues of emissions very seriously,” and that there is a “concerted effort” in the industry to modernize the country’s pipeline network.

Natural gas vehicles worse for climate than diesel ones?

· Natural gas vehicles may be worse for the climate than diesel-fueled ones

· The natural gas system leaks methane, a potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas

· Leaks may explain why studies find higher methane emissions than EPA estimates

Natural gas is widely hailed as cleaner than other fossil fuels, but new research says using it — instead of diesel — to power trucks and buses could actually exacerbate global warming over a 100-year period.

Diesel engines are relatively fuel-efficient while the natural gas infrastructure leaks more heat-trapping methane than federal or industry data suggest, says a study Thursday by 16 scientists from federal laboratories and seven universities including Stanford, Harvard and MIT

“Fueling trucks and buses with natural gas may help local air quality and reduce oil imports, but it is not likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says lead author Adam Brandt,of Stanford, noting this finding was based on greenhouse-gas calculations from an earlier 2012 analysis. Burning natural gas in vehicles emits less carbon dioxide than burning diesel, but the drilling and production of natural gas causes methane leaks.

“Even running passenger cars on natural gas instead of gasoline is probably on the borderline in terms of climate,” he says.

An industry group disagrees. Richard Kolodziej, president of Natural Gas Vehicles for America, says a 2007 report by the California Energy Commission calculated that on a well-to-wheel basis — which includes extraction and distribution — that natural gas in vehicles emits 22% fewer greenhouse gases than diesel and 29% fewer than conventional gasoline.

The new research, a review of 200-plus studies that appears in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, says natural gas is still — despite methane leaks — better for the climate long-term than coal as a way to generate electricity.

The production of natural gas is booming in the United States, and President Obama welcomed it in his 2014 State of the Union Address as “bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” He urged Congress to support the construction of natural gas fueling stations for cars and trucks.

Natural gas consists mostly of methane, a greenhouse gas that doesn’t linger in the atmosphere nearly as long as carbon dioxide but traps about 30 times more heat while it does. So even small methane leaks, whether from pipelines under city streets or a power plant, add up.

The study says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency underestimates methane emissions largely because of the way it tallies them. The agency takes a “bottom-up” approach in which it calculates emissions based on the amount released per cow or facility. It does not include emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells or natural sources such as wetlands.

In contrast, “top-down” counts taken from airplanes or towers measure actual methane in the air. They suggest U.S. methane emissions are 25% to 75% higher than EPA estimates, says the study, which also notes the limits of these atmospheric counts.

“It’s not clear where these emissions are coming from,” Brandt told reporters. While scientists don’t know exactly how much is due to hydraulic fracturing or fracking — the drilling method largely responsible for the natural gas boom — he said it’s probably a small share of total emissions.

The study says methane leakage in the gas industry may also have been underestimated because emission rates for wells and processing plants were based on voluntary participation. One EPA study asked 30 gas companies to cooperate, but only six allowed the agency on site.

“It’s impossible to take direct measurements of emissions from sources without site access,” said co-author Garvin Heath, senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The authors call on the natural gas industry to clean up its leaks. Fortunately for gas companies, they say a few leaks probably account for much of the problem so repairs are doable. An earlier study of about 75,000 components at processing plants found just 50 faulty ones were behind nearly 60% of the leaked gas.

Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental lobbying group, says gas companies are moving in the right direction. He says they’re being prodded by an upcoming EPA rule — effective January 2015 — that requires methane be captured when liquids are being removed after drilling.

“EPA has not yet had the opportunity to review the upcoming Science study on methane emissions,” the agency said in a statement. The EPA says it’s aware of studies that show emissions are higher than its estimates, adding this research will “help us refine our estimates going forward.”

Lee Brown
Executive Director

CA Construction Trucking Assoc.
334 N. Euclid Ave.
Upland, Ca 91786

From Sel Graham to me. Sel is Infantry, then West Point, then engineer and attorney, so I he speaks of military feint to confuse. I would call it the “squirrel” trick.


A red herring has just drawn the USA up a blind alley. In military circles this is called a feint to confuse the enemy. The USA needs to stick to the critical and vital national security issue and stop wandering off that issue.

The government seeks to replace oil with biofuel. Yet, ethanol production peaked in 2011 and has been declining since.1 At ethanol’s peak in 2011, ethanol production was 13,948 million gallons which is 332 million barrels. Oil demand that same year was 5,326 million barrels.2 Thus, ethanol was only 6% of total oil demand. It is impossible for the government to replace oil with ethanol.

The government seeks to lower the emissions of carbon dioxide. Yet, using ethanol emits more carbon dioxide into the air than using gasoline. A gallon of ethanol contains 12.57 pounds of carbon dioxide and 77,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of energy. A gallon of gasoline contains 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide and 124,238 BTUs of energy.3 For every 10,000 BTUs of energy used, ethanol emits 1.63 pounds of carbon dioxide, and gasoline emits 1.58 pounds of carbon dioxide. Therefore, using ethanol emits more carbon dioxide into the air than using gasoline. The government does not want to lower carbon dioxide emissions by eliminating ethanol. The government energy agenda conflicts with the government climate agenda.

Most Republican politicians (including my own Republican Congressman) are for all types of energy — which includes ethanol. Since both Republicans and Democrats either tolerate or encourage the continued production of ethanol, no thought whatsoever is being given to foreign oil imports, an annual money drain of over $300 billion.4 Because of ethanol, there is no urgency to expedite the elimination of foreign oil imports. Yet, the United States is twice as vulnerable to foreign oil today as it was in 1973 at the time of the Arab Oil Embargo when foreign imports were only 26% of oil demand. Vulnerability of the USA to foreign nations is a national security issue. America is asleep at the national security alarm.

Ethanol is the sole reason for the neglect in eliminating foreign oil imports on an emergency basis. Ethanol is causing this national security issue.

Domestic oil is always cheaper than foreign oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average price of domestic oil was $94.52 per barrel in 2012 (the most recent annual data), while the average price of imported foreign oil was $101.00 per barrel.5 Since domestic oil was $6.48 per barrel cheaper than foreign oil, American consumers would have saved $20 billion if domestic oil had replaced foreign oil. Domestic oil can eliminate foreign oil imports if the government would stop its anti-oil agenda and eliminate the ethanol mandate.

Seldon B. Graham, Jr.

Note: Technical references are in footnotes for doubters to check and confirm the truth of the statement.


1 , “The Industry,” “Industry Statistics”


3 The 12.57 pounds of CO2 in ethanol comes from Dr. John Markert, Chair, Physics Department, University of Texas at Austin; and Dr. Ed Fry, Chair, Physics Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. The 77,000 BTUs for ethanol comes from the website of the Renewable Fuels Association at: . The 19.64 pounds of CO2 in gasoline comes from the website of the Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, at: . The 124,238 BTUs for gasoline comes from the website of the Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, at:


5 and

5 responses to “Methane Menace

  1. That is a for sure RED HERRING – ever been to a wetland and walked in the black mud – humm the smell like from swamps and garbage dumps is the earth making more methane. In the oceans there are unmeasurable amount of frozen methane that melts at time a releases into the atmosphere.

    What total BUNK THE E=GREENS again ignore science and go to emotions and scare tactics. We need to closed down the EPA, NOAA and other E=GREEN THINK TANKS. They all produce like the Universities GRANT SCIENCE – produce the work product the Progressives want or no more money and job.

    Here is how to close most Federal Agencies and Restore States Rights and powers.—group-overview-and-proposal.html—article-v.html

  2. Even if you don’t burn it, methane (CH4) in the atmosphere oxidizes fairly rapidly, changing into (negligible amounts of) harmless CO2 and water:

    CH4 + 2·O2 -> CO2 + 2·H2O

    Various sources give the half-life of methane in the atmosphere as 6 to 8 years, which would make the average lifetime 1.4427 times that (because oxidation is an exponential process, rather than linear), yielding an average lifetime for a molecule of CH4 in the atmosphere of 8.7 to 11.5 years. Page 11 of this source gives the directly-calculated atmospheric lifetime of CH4 as ~8 years, but identifies a feedback mechanism that (they say) effectively increases the atmospheric lifetime of additional CH4 to ~12 years.

    Call it 8-12 years. That’s pretty short. It means the only reason methane levels are as high as they are (about 1.8 ppm) is that methane emissions are already high. There would have to be a very large, sustained increase in methane emissions to cause much increase in long-term average atmospheric methane levels.

  3. dave, help me- how could a subtance that oxidizes easily have a half life of 8-12 years unless the EPA shills are messin’ with our minds?

    Did you know we have some hot damn chemists. Mr. bob is a chemist tadchem is a chemist.

    who knows how many chemists we have?

    I will find out, won’t I. Your comment goes up as a post.

  4. Oxygenated fuel additives reduce carbon monoxide and VOC emissions from an internal combustion engine. This was an early EPA mandate. CO and VOC’s are also handled very effectively by catalytic converters but not until the converter reaches operating temperature (light off). So, the oxygenated fuel serves to reduce emissions for the first 2-3 minutes of operation?
    Methyl t-butyl ether was the common fuel oxygenate but it had problems with groundwater contamination from leaking underground storage tanks. Ethanol did have that problem and it made a heck of a farm subsidy. As COL Graham so ably ethanol reduces the heat content of a gallon of fuel, so you increase fuel use, destroying any benefit for CO2 reduction. If you were going to use ethanol as a fuel oxygenate, you could use a heck of lot less.

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