Daniel Raimi in The Conversation, Newsweek on America's growing methane problem

January 25, 2016

On January 19, The Conversation US, and subsequently Newsweek, published Daniel Raimi’s “California’s Aliso canyon methane leak: climate disaster or opportunity? ” In the article, Raimi examines the need to address methane emissions from the oil and gas sector through the lens of the recent natural gas leak in northwest Los Angeles. Raimi asserts this incident, while not the climate “disaster” some claim, should "focus minds and encourage businesses and policy makers to address the broader issue…to reduce methane emissions across our oil and natural gas systems.”

Raimi, who calculates the large leak emits only a very small amount of greenhouse gases when measured against herculean scale of the U.S. energy system, believes it is representative of a larger problem for the industry. Methane gas, which is intentionally vented or unintentionally leaked along much of the natural gas supply chain, represents roughly 10 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. “Methane emissions from oil and gas systems are poorly understood, and in most cases unregulated and unmonitored by governmental agencies," he says. 

Yet, Raimi asserts there are cost-effective solutions to reduce methane’s environmental impact. “One recent study estimates that most leaks can be fixed at extremely low cost and others have found that a large portion of emission come from a small number of ‘super-emitters,’ unmonitored facilities that belch methane into the air.”

“This research suggests that well-designed state or federal regulations targeting methane emissions can get a lot of bang for their buck,” he says. 

--Story by Alex Berger

Daniel Raimi is a policy researcher and lecturer at the Ford School with expertise in energy policy issues including oil and gas markets and policy, regulation of unconventional oil and gas production, state fiscal policy design for oil and gas production, the climate implications of shale gas development, and federal climate policy design. Daniel teaches "Oil and Gas Policy in the US" at the Ford School.