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Overview Rationale

  1. Methane leaked to the atmosphere is horrible GHG, and
  2. it happens proportionally to Natural Gas Consumption
  3. resultant GHG consequence can be calculated
  4. needs to be correctly calculated by using appropriate timeframe
  5. result will be that life-cycle use of natural gas is not an improvement on coal.
  6. Oregon already has accepted into law the ethic that coal pollution should not be acceptable via wire from non-Oregon generators.
  7. Need same ethic to be applied to natural gas – fugitive emissions created for the sake of supplying Oregon with natural gas would count against Oregon's GHG rollup using the appropriate timeframe of measurements.

More detail: In a nutshell, methane (the main ingredient of natural gas) is much more powerful as a greenhouse gas (GHG) than carbon dioxide. Evidence suggests that fracking as a process leaks methane and that we can estimate the leakage to be between 4 and 12% of delivered product.

The following table shows multipliers that when applied to metric tons of CH4 will produce metric tons of CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent metruc tons).

Name of multiplier Strength of CH4 Time period of interest
GWP(0) 125 Right now
GWP(20) 84 20 years
GWP(100) 28 100 years

Slide presentation on Methane and Climate Change to 350pdx-sw on 11/14/2016

[[|TheMethaneStory Slides]

Video version of above slideshow: [[|TheMethaneStory Slides]

Questions and Answers from Presentation:

Q: CH4 is Methane Molecule?

A: Yes, it is. There is a ton of information on that on Wikipedia.

This is the simplest hydrocarbon, a small, hard-to-contain molecule. To see more see:

and to go further into fuels and the oil industry see:

Q: Do I understand the message from your presentation if I say the following?

  • 6 degrees is believed by many to be the mass extinction point. We never want to get there.
  • We can’t afford to only pay attention to CO2 emissions and ignore methane, despite its relatively short half life.
  • Conversely, we need to block CO2 fuels and find ways to trap methane since currently extraction methods leak so much methane every step of the way from extraction to reaching market.
  • Polar ice caps, glaciers and tundra are melting faster than previously forecast. (Because methane not fully included in forecast.)
  • Since methane traps much more heat as a greenhouse gas than CO2, continuing business as usual (or making changes too slowly) as melting accelerates we soon run the risk of releasing sinks of methane currently trapped under the tundra, which will in turn accelerate melting further, etc., with the result of as much as 6 degrees C global temp rise by end of this century.

A: Yes, those were very important points of the presentation. In addition, the following points were partially made, and will be more fully addressed in the next version of the talk:

  • Oregon is not yet taking the ever-changing trajectory and methane seriously, but needs to.
  • In most old accounting, methane is just a small adder to the warming accounting and is often even excluded from the inventory. Since we are getting toward the point where we must quit making it worse, Methane actually contributes as much warming as CO2, and leaving it out of budgets will cause us problems.
  • The same life-cycle accounting that caused us to say Coal-by-wire is wrong needs to be applied to fugitive methane by pipe – we must not use methane w/o accounting for the leakage part, even if that is out-ot-state.
  • The PGE Carty plant #1 (and plans for plant #2, #3, and #4) are examples of poor planning based on wrong assumptions that need to be stopped.
  • Getting to true control of the Oregon Greenhouse Gas Budget is an important step that will require more staffing and planning from Oregon Global Warming Commission. Angus Duncan's hopes to provide adequate information in advance of every future long legislative session is important.

Email further questions to Ed Averill

overview_rationale.txt · Last modified: 2016/11/30 12:55 by admin