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Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector: Barriers to Abatement and Technologies for Emission Reductions

March 3, 2013
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Methane is a unique hydrocarbon in several respects. It is a clean burning fuel, easy to desulfurize, easy to produce, transport to market, easy to use by consumers. It is also a powerful greenhouse gas partially because it is the only hydrocarbon lighter than air, and gravitates up in the atmosphere rather than remain low where pollution causes human health problems. Because it does not significantly participate in photochemical reactions causing smog, emissions have been largely ignored during the past 40 years of the Clean Air Act in the U.S. and other countries of the world following suit with the U.S. environmental movement.

The point is made in this paper that, like a clock spring, the worldwide economic and political structure is wound tight over the past century. Therefore, most of the recommendations will take time to sell, to implement, to perfect, to unwind those barriers against methane mitigation.