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The Environmental Defense Fund Wants to Launch a Satellite to Track Greenhouse Gas Leaks
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From The Washington Post: The Environmental Defense Fund Wants to Launch a Satellite to Track Greenhouse Gas Leaks


The Washington Post is reporting that the Environmental Dense Fund (EDF) is in the process of trying to raise $40 million to launch a satellite that would measure methane from oil and gas operations.


It has tapped into the work of Harvard University researchers to fine tune sensors. It has also 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 about economic and business issues.


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estimates Pennsylvania’s oil and gas operators emit more than 520,000 tons of methane a year, primarily from leaky, outdated and malfunctioning equipment.


The new satellite “would be the first capable of monitoring worldwide all oil and gas facilities with precision,” Fred Krupp, president of EDF, said in an interview. “It’s a very compact satellite designed to do one thing way better than anyone’s done it.”


The satellite will produce a global snapshot of 80 percent of the globe every seven days and will detect methane in concentrations of as little as two parts per billion. Ingersoll said that the satellite would use infrared spectrometers and track methane’s signature wavelengths and reflection of small packets of light, or photons.


The team of Harvard researchers including professor of atmospheric and environmental science Steven C. Wofsy has been doing similar work about the large increase in U.S. methane emissions during the past decade using existing satellite data and surface observations.


The new data will help compare actual emissions and the pledges made by companies or countries in line with the Paris agreement. While there is no Paris target, methane reductions are part of countries’ individual implementation plans.


In recent years, EDF has been conducting 16 studies with industry and academics to produce an authoritative estimate of leaks all along the natural gas supply chain.


View The Wall Street Journal article here.

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