When the Environmental Defense Fund told commercial space guru Tom Ingersoll that it wanted to launch a satellite to measure methane from oil and gas operations, he says his reaction was “Whoa! You guys want to do what?”
Yet that’s what the EDF is doing. It is well on its way toward raising about $40 million. It has tapped into the work of Harvard University researchers to fine tune sensors. And it has reached out to Ingersoll and others in the commercial space business to create a device that will be able to measure methane emissions on a 125-mile wide swath with pixel resolution of less than five-eighths of a mile.
EDF will also get support from TED Talks, which hopes to spur fundraising for a variety of causes through its “Audacious Project.”
The satellite will enable EDF to more accurately measure methane emissions, which account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The results could be sobering. In February, EDF estimated methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s shale oil and gas sites may be more than five times higher than what oil and gas companies reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The EDF analysis estimates Pennsylvania’s oil and gas operators emit more than 520,000 tons of methane a year, primarily from leaky, outdated and malfunctioning equipment.
This wasted gas causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants and results in nearly $68 million worth of wasted energy resources, the environmental group said. [Continue reading…]
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