‘Short-Lived’ Methane Could Raise Sea Levels for Another 800 Years

A new study shows that sea levels will keep increasing long after emissions leave the atmosphere.

The Atlantic 


January 10, 2017

There’s a pretty story we tell ourselves about environmental problems: Once you fix them, they immediately start to improve.

Smog works like this. In cities where air quality is a problem, smog tends to worsen on weekdays, because millions of people are commuting and factories are fully productive. On weekends, when fewer people drive, the air tends to clear.

Likewise, when the country chose to address its smog problem, it got better. In 1970, Congress passed the Clean Air Act and told the EPA to start regulating air pollution. Smog across the country began to dissipate, and certain lung conditions became less common. Air pollution is not the problem today that it was in the 1960s and early 1970s because the United States addressed it.

It is a pleasant story. It’s true for some issues. For global warming, it is a fable.

Greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere today will cause the seas to rise for centuries to come, even if those gases leave the atmosphere relatively rapidly, finds a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study specifically examined short-lived greenhouse gases like methane. Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas, and it contributes about a third of modern-day global warming. It’s very powerful, trapping heat 25 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, but it’s also ephemeral. On average, a molecule of methane is absorbed in the soil or destroyed in the atmosphere 12 years after it is emitted. A molecule of CO₂ can float around for centuries.

Yet the paper shows that the consequences of that methane molecule will last for more than a millennium, causing the the seas to rise higher and higher all the time. That’s because sea-level rise is not only caused by extra water, but by hotter water. As the oceans absorb heat, they expand—and it takes a very long time for this heat to leave.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Methane's On The Rise, But Regulations To Stop Gas Leaks Still Debated


By Christopher Joyce

January 2, 2016

There's more methane gas in the atmosphere than there used to be, by every scientific measure. The Obama administration has been trying to stem the increase of this powerful greenhouse gas, but the incoming Trump administration appears bent on keeping the government's hands off methane.

The gas comes from agriculture, especially flooded agricultural lands like rice fields, as well as from the digestive tracts of livestock. But it's also the main component of natural gas; some methane escapes from leaky oil and gas operations.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

With Trump as president, states must be more vigilant about clean air

Allentown Morning Call - Letter to the Editor

by Lisa Ditalia, Bethlehem

January 3, 2017

As the new administration in Washington, D.C., will be ever more populated with climate deniers, it will fall to Gov. Wolf to ensure that Pennsylvanians are being proactive around the climate consequences of our state's rampant fossil fuel development. If we are part of the problem, we need to be part of the solution.

With the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan to combat carbon pollution held up in the courts, we can at least act on methane pollution from fracking activity.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Earthquake protections to be built into Pa. permits for fracking waste disposal wells

Power Source

By Laura Legere

December 22, 2016

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are on the verge of approving two planned disposal wells for oil and gas waste fluids, on the condition that the operators take steps to limit the chances the wells will cause the kinds of earthquakes that have rocked other oil and gas producing regions.

Department of Environmental Protection officials said they will soon issue long-delayed permits to Pennsylvania General Energy Co. and Seneca Resources Corp. for disposal wells in Grant Township, Indiana County, and Highland Township, Elk County.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

DEP to launch statewide listening tour in early 2017

By Marie Cusick

December 20, 2016

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection intends to launch a statewide listening tour early next year, focusing on environmental justice issues related to oil and gas development.

Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says department staff plan to visit every corner of the state.

“We’re going into communities where we need to up our game on the public participation side of things,” he says. “To make sure they have information so they can meaningfully engage with us.”

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

DEP unveils permit requirements to curb air pollution at gas sites

By Marie Cusick

December 8, 2016

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to curb harmful air emissions from natural gas sites. At an advisory committee meeting Thursday, regulators unveiled new draft permit requirements.

“Shortly, we’ll be formally publishing the draft documents in the Pennsylvania Bulletin,” says Krishnan Ramamurthy, DEP’s acting Director for Air Quality. ”We’ll be opening it for a 45 day comment period for the public and industry.”

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Pa. environmental chief waiting to see what Trump administration will bring

State Impact

By Marie Cusick

December 15, 2016 

President-elect Donald Trump is solidifying his cabinet, and he appears poised to reverse of many of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental initiatives—including its signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan.

A lot of attention is now turning to how states and local governments will address climate change.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Drones Take to the Skies to Screen for Methane Emissions

IEEE Spectrum

By Andrew Silver

December 14, 2016

When you think of greenhouse gas emissions, you might be thinking of carbon dioxide—but methane is another significant contributor to warming that’s on the rise. Sources include large grassfires, leaking natural gas wells, natural wetland processes, belching cows, or even farting termites. But the relative contribution of each of these sources to Africa’s methane mix has been hard to track. And that’s important data to have, because the tropics account for 40 percent of global emissions. Last month, researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters, that a drone on a remote tropical island may solve that mystery.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Take a deep breath – here’s what 2016 revealed about the deadly dangers of air pollution

The Conversation

By Gary Haq

December 13, 2016

BeijingLondonMexico CityNew Delhi and Paris are among the cities that have drawn attention for their dangerously high air pollution levels in 2016 – but they’re not alone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that 92% of the world’s urban population now live in cities where the air is toxic.

In India, a study found that 41 Indian cities of more than a million people faced bad air quality on nearly 60% of the total days monitored. Three cities – Gwalior, Varanasi and Allahabad – didn’t even manage one good air quality day.

Over on the African continent, dirty air was identified as the cause of 712,000 premature deaths – that’s more than unsafe water (542,000), childhood malnutrition (275,000) or unsafe sanitation (391,000).

In Europe, it was found that around 85% of the urban population are exposed to harmful fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which was responsible for an estimated 467,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries.

It’s not all bad news though: 74 major Chinese cities have seen the annual average concentrations of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, decrease since 2014 although the Chinese government’s “war on air pollution” has received criticism.

Read enough? We think this makes PA specific methane rules even more important. Click here to take action to #CutMethane.



Read more

Trump adds ‘mother in love with fracking’ to EPA team

The Hill

By Devin Henry

December 01, 2016

A Colorado think tank chief who opposes key Obama administration energy regulations has been added to Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. 

Trump officials named Amy Oliver Cooke, the vice president and director of the Independence Institutes’ Energy Policy Center, to his EPA landing team on Thursday. 

Cooke has spoken out against Democratic environmental polices both in Washington and Colorado. In a September op-ed in the Denver Post, she said the EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule is “backstopped by a cap-and-trade scheme,” and that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was “like Obama ... intent on imposing climate policies over the will of the people.” 

In a Wednesday blog post, Cooke wrote, “in 2017 the EPA will be very different under a President Trump administration. During the campaign, Mr. Trump said the Clean Power Plan is DOA.”

Read enough? We think this makes PA specific methane rules even more important. Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

Read more

Send a Letter Stories

get updates