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Methane impact pioneer: Now is not the time to unleash this growing climate threat

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Jeff Tyson

The Trump administration plans to go public with a proposal that would make it easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere — rolling back a requirement that companies repair methane leaks.

Robert Howarth

Robert Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology

Robert Howarth is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University and a faculty fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. He studies the greenhouse gas footprint of methane extracted from shale formations such as the Marcellus shale, and presented his research at the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. He says methane in the atmosphere has risen rapidly since a shale gas boom in 2008.

Howarth says:

"Methane is a critically important greenhouse gas that is more than 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat. After remaining constant for the first decade of the 21st Century, atmospheric methane has been rising rapidly since the start of the shale gas explosion in the United States in 2008. New research from the Howarth-Marino lab at Cornell indicates that shale gas exploitation in the United States is in fact the single largest driver of this methane increase globally. Now is not the time to relax controls on methane emissions from industry."

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