Friday, December 04, 2015

Region with nation's highest methane emissions collects 25,000 signatures in support of regulations

Environmentalist joined local activists in southern Colorado "to express support for proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations on oil and gas industry atmospheric methane emissions," James Fenton reports for the Farmington Daily Times in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. A coalition of environmentalists in New Mexico said they "had collected 25,000 public comments in favor of the Obama administration's proposed rule." (Best Places map: Farmington, N.M.)

"New Mexico is the second-leading producer of natural gas in the U.S.," Fenton writes. "Last year, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other scientists published a report that showed a 'hot spot' of atmospheric methane over 2,500 square miles of the Four Corners region, which is the highest concentration of methane in the U.S. Results from a follow-up study are expected next year."

"In August, the EPA proposed placing limits on methane pollution as part of the Obama administration's efforts to combat climate change," Fenton writes. "Obama has set a goal of cutting methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels over the next decade. Natural gas is 90 percent methane, which is a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time period, though not as potent over longer periods of time," said Camilia Feibelman of the Sierra Club.

Alex Renirie, of the Sierra Club, said "oil and natural gas producers in New Mexico emitted more than 250,000 metric tons of methane in 2013," Fenton writes. While Sierra Club members said the rules don't go far enough to reduce methane emissions, members of the Navajo Nation said they are the ones "suffering health and environmental impacts from fugitive methane." (Read more)

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