How do we stop natural gas leaks?
Please help tackle two big challenges: Finding leaks and setting high standards
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 the urgent problem 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.
If your area’s leaks haven’t been mapped, nominate it! This helps us plan where to map next, and shows local utility companies and regulators that you support reducing leaks. (If your city is part of the pilot, see your city page for next steps.)
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.
Fortunately, the Obama administration is making progress. In 2016, EPA set national standards that, for the first time, directly regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. New facilities must now meet pollution standards for methane.
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.
That’s where you come in: Thank administrator Gina McCarthy for the progress so far, and remind her how much work remains to be done. The more people she hears from, the more pressure they are under to limit methane pollution across the oil and gas industry.