Proposed Methane Standards: limits on methane pollution from oil and gas operations

danielmenorahInterfaith Power & Light released comments on the EPA’s announcement of proposed methane emission limits from oil and gas operations yesterday.  PA IPL’s own Rabbi Daniel Swartz was one of three faith leaders quoted. See the full release: Methane-press-release.IPL  and click through for video of leaks.

Faith Community Supports EPA’s Proposed Methane Pollution Standards Religious leaders applaud move to protect public health

SAN FRANCISCO – Faith leaders from around the country voiced strong support today as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first-ever proposed rules to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas sites. As a toxic pollutant and potent greenhouse gas able to trap 80 times as much heat over a 20-year period as carbon dioxide, faith groups have identified methane pollution as a serous public health risk in need of regulation.

Rabbi Daniel Swartz, president of the board of Pennsylvania IPL said:
IMG_0742“Methane emissions trap heat and contribute to the formation of ground-level smog that disproportionately impacts children, the elderly and the poor. Justice demands that we protect these vulnerable populations from the health implications of this pollution.
“Here in Pennsylvania, we support the EPA’s proposed methane emissions regulations as a move towards a healthy, just and sustainable future, liberated from reliance on pollution generating fossil fuels.”      Full text, including comment by the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, and Sister Joan Brown, OSF:  Methane-press-release.IPL

Not sure we have a methane leakage problem?  The first video below was posted by the Texas Tribune this month.   The second video below is from a company that makes cameras that detect the (invisible) methane, showing leaks at a facility whose manager thought they were entirely within industry standard and compliance.  Description below the video.

“In this video, the Environmental Defense Fund used an infrared camera to document methane leaks from gathering facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale and the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.”

Here is the description that goes with the video

Published on Jan 26, 2014

Yellotec Putting Optical Gas Imaging to the Test
OGI Camera versus Sniffer: An Interesting Case Study

Usually during a demonstration of OGI cameras we would show live video from an OGI camera unit looking at normal butane gas (cigarette lighter of which the gas trigger is depressed without igniting the gas). The image then clearly shows the gas escaping from the lighter which is invisible to the naked eye off course. This normally causes quite a stir, especially with clients who has never seen an OGI camera in action.

During this one specific meeting the client personnel – who was never exposed to this technology before – remained quite doubtful, with believers and nonbelievers challenging each other quite healthily. At this point one of the technology supporters challenged a particularly doubtful production foreman that the OGI camera would find a gas leak on one of their recently commissioned gas tight declared methane reforming trains.

The production foreman immediately took up the bet stating that they tested the plant thoroughly with sniffers and that it was indeed gas tight. With the correct permits and safety gear arranged, the foreman took us into the plant.

Initially the plant seemed to be pretty gas tight, but within the next 20 minutes we found 3 leaks. One of which on a 2″ drain valve proved extremely serious, and actually required immediate intervention. The whole train was inspected and all leaks recorded within an hour, a task that 3 production personnel needed a full shift for to complete the previous day.

Although the benefits of gas sniffing equipment cannot be ignored, one shortfall is that the sniffer results can be affected by wind. In our case, the gas sniffing equipment could not detect the leak until we were able to show the inspector which side of the drain valve the gas was originating from. In the end, the only way for him to detect the leak was when he held the sniffer very close, almost against the valve, and on the correct side, as the wind was blowing the gas away.