Methane mitigation fuels a growing, American industry

Sean Wright

In 1933, Milton Heath Sr. opened a small, family-run consulting firm to find leaks from natural gas pipelines in an emerging energy market. More than 80 years later, the Texas-based business has expanded to provide more than 1,200 manufacturing and service jobs nationwide.

Heath Consultants’ business model may have changed - but the company’s commitment to finding and reducing leaks of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—has not wavered.

Stories like Heath’s are the focus of a new report released this week by Datu Research. The Emerging U.S. Methane Mitigation Industry looks at the growing industry that specializes in manufacturing technologies and providing services that help oil and gas companies reduce their environmental impact and deliver a valuable product to market.

The report analyzes more than 70 companies that limit methane emissions and provide high-paying, highly skilled jobs to thousands across the country. They operate in a rapidly growing industry responding to concerns over methane pollution that is rising in tandem with our domestic energy boom.

Industry spans 46 states

Datu’s analysis shows that the economic growth of this burgeoning sector can be found in more than 500 service and manufacturing locations in 46 states. The majority of these companies are small businesses that are putting America to work to build and support solutions that clean our air, while providing in-demand occupations in high-paying jobs.

The dozens of companies featured in the report show American ingenuity. Each stands ready with proven solutions, whether they specialize in lasers, infrared cameras, leak detection and repair, low-bleed pneumatics or gas capture devices.

The report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to implement national standards to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

Good, comprehensive policy would help drive the full extent of emissions reductions we know are possible, and which this industry is poised to deliver at a massive scale. Utilizing these services and technologies to reduce methane leaks is a win-win for our climate, pocketbook, and communities.

Methane rules will bring more jobs

With the right rules in place, these companies can grow jobs in states such as Ohio where manufacturing jobs are getting a boost from these types of industries.

“The oil and gas industry is growing every day in our state, creating thousands of jobs for Ohioans,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said. “This report illustrates Ohio is at the forefront nationally, creating jobs and protecting the environment while reducing emissions from this new industry.”

The report clearly shows that companies and technology to reduce methane exist, and what benefits they bring. But without putting firm national standards in place, methane emissions, already responsible for about a quarter of the warming we experience today, are expected to continue to increase about five percent by 2018.

It’s promising that some companies have started to look out for their bottom line and take action to reduce methane leaks, but as an EPA Inspector General report found, these voluntary measures are not enough to address the magnitude of the problem – one that leads to $1.8 billion in lost product every year.

We all want economic growth, a healthy private sector, good-paying jobs and a clean America. The industry and technology highlighted in Datu’s report show that with the right policies, we can have it all.

This post first ran on our EDF + Business blog.