By Anthony Hennen
(The Center Square) — Improvements in methane emission monitoring could bring a market advantage to Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, while still reducing harmful effects on people and nature alike.
On Tuesday, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard from Project Canary, a climate technology company that monitors emission levels.
“There’s a huge opportunity for Pennsylvania here,” Michelle Moorman Applegate, senior director of policy for Project Canary, said.
Project Canary sets up sensors to measure methane leaks and other problem areas, which Applegate argued has environmental and economic benefits.
“We are all doing the good work of trying to help operators be more sustainable and cleaner, and to bend the arc of climate change,” she said.
The effort has drawn legislative attention because methane is better at trapping radiation in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 is 28 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period,” according to the EPA.
Limiting methane’s impact starts with knowing when and where it leaks out in the natural gas industry.
“It gives our operators the ability to actually measure in real time what’s going on and then they can deploy resources and capital to address it,” Applegate said. “That’s how we prevent small leaks from becoming big problems.”
Better methane monitoring also offers a branding opportunity. Changes in federal regulations will require more reporting about emissions and changes in procurement rules, and Pennsylvania could benefit by demonstrating that its natural gas meets the definition of “responsibly sourced.”
To be responsibly sourced, natural gas production must have a methane intensity level below 0.2%, with intensity being defined as the amount of methane released over the amount of methane produced, Applegate said.
Pennsylvania’s average was 0.08% according to 2020 data.
Though Applegate offered an optimistic view of what’s to come from monitoring methane emissions, legislators were cognizant of the tradeoffs.
“If we can effectively mitigate methane emissions, that’s something that we need to look at,” Sen. Carolyn Comitta, D-West Chester, said. “Still, I remain concerned that in greening the fossil fuel industry, we are missing out on opportunities to invest in renewables.”
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square news wire service, covering Pennsylvania, and co-host of Pennsylvania in Focus, a weekly podcast on America’s Talking Network. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
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To read more about Pennsylvania climate policy, click here.