Wednesday, November 17, 2004

U.S. and 13 Other States Agree on Push to Gather Methane Gas

This is an interesting move to reduce dependance on oil.

U.S. and 13 Other States Agree on Push to Gather Methane Gas

By MICHAEL JANOFSKY Published: November 17, 2004 (NY Times)

Methane is one of the constituent parts of natural gas, and is a naturally occuring gas that leaks into the atmosphere from numerous sources such as landfills and sewage treatment. It can easily be used as a fuel to be used in driving machines or creating electricity. It is available everywhere, all around the world since it is a simple byproduct of normal biological processes.

An important thing is that it is not deriving from fossil fuels. When we burn a fossil fuel, we are digging up carbon from millions of years in the past and releasing that carbon into the ecosphere. But methane comes from carbon that was already present in the ecosphere, and does not act to increase the amoung of carbon in the ecosphere. Hence, use of methane and other non-fossil fuels is a good step towards rehabilitating the world climate and ecology.

The United States is underwriting some of the costs of the nonbinding methane agreement, $53 million over five years. It calls on the participating industrialized countries to help poorer countries capture and market methane leaking from countries to use American expertise to develop methods of capturing the gas from landfills, coal mines and oil and gas operations.

The gas would then be sold for energy.

Michael O. Leavitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said the agreement was an important step that would lead to "an environmental and economic harvest" for participating countries. The goal is to capture nine million tons of methane a year by 2015.

I find it an odd position to be applauding an ecology and energy policy move by the Bush administration.


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