The natural gas pipelines in the U.S. could circle the planet nearly 100 times. In a system that big, leaks are a persistent challenge, with significant implications for our climate.
We have detailed recommendations, but the basic challenges are straightforward, and you can help tackle them.
1. Map leaks in more places
With the methods developed in this pilot project, it's possible to identify and prioritize leaks far more quickly than before. And Google Earth Outreach's mapping tools are a powerful way to visualize the scale of leaks, showing how urgent the problem is, and the efforts by utilities to address it.
Our maps show leaks found at the time of our survey. We encourage utilities to regularly publish their own updated leak maps to show where they have made repairs, and where new leaks are found.
2. Speak up for improvements
We have to repair and prevent leaks, which can occur anywhere in the natural gas supply chain, from the well site to pipes under local streets.
But once public safety is addressed, it can be hard for utilities and state regulators to make fixing the remaining leaks a priority – even though they pack a big punch for climate change. Some states and companies are taking action, but a national policy to reduce methane leaks would ensure that all actors in the natural gas industry are doing their part.
But these rules don't go far enough, because most of the industry's methane pollution comes from facilities that already exist. Their near-term climate impact is the same as more than 200 coal plants, and they are not covered by the rule.
Act when it matters most