Methane Emissions Reduction Strategy released by the White House

March 28, 2014
Washington, D.C.


The White House Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan has been released. It highlights several existing and upcoming carbon cycle interagency activities (incl. non-USGCRP ones). A U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program relevant excerpt from the Strategy is presented below.

...Key Actions to Improve Methane Emissions Measurement and Monitoring

Administration efforts to improve U.S. methane measurement support two broad goals:

1) improving the bottom-up emissions data relevant for mitigation; and,

2) advancing the science and technology for monitoring and validating atmospheric concentrations.

Within these broad goals, improvement opportunities exist across input data (i.e., emissions factors, activity factors, and reductions data), atmospheric observations data, and the science needed to bridge between atmospheric observations and bottom-up emissions data (i.e., monitoring and validation science). Federal agencies are already investing in related enhancements, and this strategy announces several critical new activities to further improve methane emissions measurement Examples of both include:

  • Encouraging the Development of Cost-Effective Measurement Technologies: DOE’s ARPA-E program is preparing a new methane program that will fund technologies to deliver an order-of-magnitude reduction on the cost of methane sensing, thus facilitating much wider deployment throughout all segments of natural gas systems.
  • Enhancing the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory: EPA will continue to update and enhance the data published in its annual GHGI as new scientific evidence and data sources emerge. EPA will also continue to use the data collected through the GHGRP to improve the GHGI, particularly for the petroleum, natural gas, coal mining, and landfill sectors. This data will improve as additional reporting of inputs to emissions equations began in 2013 and, in 2015, EPA also plans to make ongoing improvements to the GHGRP regulatory requirements for petroleum and natural gas systems. In March 2014, EPA proposed revisions to GHGRP calculation methods, monitoring and data reporting requirements that would enhance the clarity and consistency of the reported data from petroleum and natural gas systems, such as for liquids unloading, completions and workovers, and compressors. The EPA will continue to review regulatory requirements to address potential gaps in coverage, improve methods, and help ensure high quality data reporting. DOE and USDA will also provide support to improve emissions factors. EPA efforts to improve the GHGI will promote transparency and stakeholder input by means of annual expert, public and international review periods.
  • Building our National Methane Monitoring Network: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists maintain a network of methane monitoring sites in the United States, including tall towers, periodic aircraft measurements, and surface measurements. NOAA has also conducted periodic aircraft- based methane measurements in six major U.S. oil and gas production regions. At its current funding level, this Carbon Observation and Analysis Program provides the minimum needed for climate modeling. To expand capabilities, the President’s budget requests $8 million above current funding of $6.5 million for this program to:

- Add 6 tall towers to the network, increasing the network to 14; 

- Enhance the measurement capabilities of all 14 towers;

- Triple the frequency of aircraft-based observations.

  • Improving Local & Regional Emissions Modeling: As part of DOE’s ongoing unconventional gas program, DOE is funding two projects - one at Pennsylvania State University and one at Carnegie Mellon University - using tracer release methods and tower, automobile, aircraft monitoring, and other methods to measure and model methane emissions from the Marcellus region in Pennsylvania. A regional inventory of other methane sources including landfills, wetlands, water treatment facilities, and agriculture sources will also be obtained. The project is scheduled to begin in 2015 and end in 2017. Additionally, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL, is carrying out a Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment, which includes regular monitoring of methane concentrations over Alaska’s North Slope.
  • Improving Global Emissions Monitoring and Estimates: EPA is collecting emissions reduction data through the Global Methane Initiative. EPA will also continue to update and publish detailed estimates and projections of global human-related non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and the mitigation potential from these sources. DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility is making long-term methane flux measurements at multiple permanent locations around the world. NOAA runs the largest global network of GHG measurements and works closely with international partners and the World Meteorological Organization to ensure global measurements of GHG concentrations, including methane, are standardized. NOAA also consolidates data from this global network and releases the data to the public. Other Federal agencies (e.g. NASA and DOE) also contribute to these networks. NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are helping to fund the Megacities Carbon Project, an international research effort to develop and demonstrate a scientifically robust capability to measure multi-year emission trends of CO2, methane, and carbon monoxide attributed to individual megacities and selected major sectors in those cities. In addition, USDA’s Forest Service is working with international partners, universities and the USAID on international efforts that monitor methane on sites in Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.....