METHANE AND OTHER GASES
Methane contributes about 12 percent of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The primary sources of methane emissions in the United States are landfills, coal mines, natural gas systems, and domesticated livestock.
Methane Recovery and Reduction Strategy
In many cases, methane that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere can be significantly reduced through the use of cost-effective management methods or used to generate power. Therefore, methane control options offer tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at low cost or even at a profit. Several EPA programs are already delivering cost-effective methane reductions. The Action Plan builds on those programs and establishes new initiatives to reduce methane emissions from all of the major methane sources.
PRESIDENT CLINTON IS DIRECTING:
- EPA to expand the Natural Gas Star partnership to include additional transmission and distribution companies and production companies.
- The new Natural Gas Star will set an industry-wide performance benchmark for leakage and emission control throughout the entire natural gas system.
- EPA will complete a full analysis of barriers to complete implementation and launch a marketing campaign for producers and processors during 1994.
- EPA to formulate a tough rule to reduce methane emissions from landfills under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. This rule, which will be completed this year, will increase the amount of organic compounds that must be recovered by landfills and will result in additional recovery of methane gas.
- EPA to launch new outreach and technical assistance programs for landfill and coal mine owners. Studies indicate that many coal mine and landfill owners could make a profit by using or selling the methane they release. However, most have not installed recovery systems because of institutional, regulatory, and financial barriers and a lack of technical support. These outreach programs will be reinforced and supported by DOE landfill and coalbed methane R&D programs.
- EPA and USDA to launch AgStar -- a partnership effort with beef, dairy, and swine farmers to supplement on-farm energy needs with methane produced from animal manure. The AgStar program will begin this year, and include farms across the country.
HFCs, PFCs and Nitrous Oxide Control Strategies
Due to high global warming potentials, long atmospheric lifetimes, and increasing emissions, hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) are a growing contributor to the climate change problem. HFCs are produced commercially as a substitute for ozone-depleting CFCs and are also emitted as a by-product of HCFC-22 production (another CFC substitute) . Perfluorocarbon emissions (PFCs), primarily from aluminum smelting, are also potent greenhouse gases. HFCs and PFCs are projected to grow from 20 MMTCE in 1990 to 45 MMTCE in 2000. Nitrous oxide emissions, mostly from fertilizer and chemical manufacture, currently account for roughly 3% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States is the first nation to articulate a national strategy to control the emissions of HFCs and PFCs. The plan uses a combination of partnership efforts and regulatory mechanisms to minimize the future contribution of HFCs and PFCs to global warming, without disrupting the orderly and cost-effective transition away from CFCs.
PRESIDENT CLINTON IS DIRECTING:
- EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to narrow the scope of uses allowed for HFCs with high global warming potentials where better alternatives exist, and to initiate rulemaking in early 1994.
- EPA to establish a partnership with chemical manufacturers to assist their efforts to limit by-product emissions of HFCs by 50 percent from their manufacturing operations.
- EPA to forge a new partnership with aluminum producers to identify emission reduction opportunities and to reduce PFC emissions by up to 50 percent.
- USDA to launch a new partnership with American farmers to improve the efficiency of fertilizer management, which will result in lower emissions of nitrous oxide from soil.
- USDA will conduct and complete field experiments regarding bacterial denitrification, and test management options to improve nitrogen use efficiency.
- Demonstration projects and an outreach campaign using nationwide USDA outlets will begin by 1996.
The current and future emission levels of these gases are subject to high degree of uncertainty. This same uncertainty affects the technical basis for estimating emission reductions from programs.