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Editorial: 'Extracting a Sane Energy Policy Around Methane'

ICYMI: The Washington Post ran an editorial on Methane on Apr. 4: "Will the United States’ energy revolution hurt the planet or help it? Will fracking for natural gas make fighting climate change harder or easier? Can the United States meet its goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020? The answer to all of these crucial questions could depend on a colorless, odorless gas that shows up all over the place."  

"The substance is methane, the primary component in natural gas. Methane rises from landfills, escapes from coal mines, exits from cows’ posteriors, seeps out of drilling sites and leaks from the pipes that transport the fuel to large power plants and countertop stoves. Burning methane produces about half the heat-trapping carbon dioxide as burning coal, the greatest climate villain of the fossil fuels. But, uncombusted, methane is a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right, a heat-trapper many times more potent than carbon dioxide. In the long term, carbon dioxide is the major worry, because methane does not linger and accumulate in the atmosphere the way carbon dioxide does. But the continuing release of large amounts of methane is still a big problem — accounting for about a tenth of the country’s greenhouse emissions, a proportion that could well rise without more effort to reduce it. Methane emissions can also foul local air, encouraging the formation of harmful ozone."

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