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[Episode #140] – Methane Leakage

Methane (natural gas) is a greenhouse gas with a much more powerful warming effect than carbon dioxide, so finding and eliminating gas leaks is an important part of addressing the climate challenge. But until now, we’ve had poor information about gas leakage within cities, as well as how to correctly attribute the leakage all along the chain from well to consumer.

In this episode we discuss a study, The Gas Index, with two of its authors. It is the first study that has provided granular estimates for life cycle methane leakage for a large number of cities, and the first to draw together recent assessments of leakage within cities, including leakage that occurs within buildings. It shows that cities’ gas systems are leaking about 72% more than had been previously estimated by the EPA.

We also consider the role of natural gas in the energy transition, and some of the tradeoffs we will have to consider as we deal with the problem of methane leakage.

Guest #1:

Emily Grubert is a civil engineer and environmental sociologist who studies how we can make better decisions about large infrastructure systems, particularly related to decarbonization of the US energy system. Specifically, she studies socioenvironmental impacts associated with future policy and infrastructure and how community and societal priorities can be better incorporated into multicriteria policy and project decisions. Grubert is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and, by courtesy, of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

On Twitter: @emilygrubert

On the Web:


Guest #2:

Mason Inman is the Oil and Gas Program Director at Global Energy Monitor, overseeing projects on gas power plants, oil and gas pipelines, LNG terminals, and gas extraction sites. He led the Gas Index study and building of the model. Previously, he worked at the nonprofit research organization Near Zero, based on the Stanford University campus, focused mainly on California climate policy. Before that, he was a science journalist for about a decade, writing for outlets including Science, Nature, National Geographic News.

On Twitter: @masoninman

On the Web: Global Energy Monitor

Recording date: January 13, 2021

Air date: February 3, 2021

Geek rating: 7