Methane Map: Do You Have A Silent Climate Threat In Your Backyard?

This was written by Sam Parry for the Environmental Defense Fund: 

I was born in Boston, love the Sox, Celts, Bruins and Pats. And my clam chowda is white and creamy. Yum.

That’s why this map of my home city caught my attention:

Boston Methan Map
No, that’s not a map of an epidemic or outbreak. Each of those dots represents an area where methane—a potent greenhouse gas, packing 120 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide—is leaking from Boston’s aging natural gas pipes, which are prone to corrosion and leaks.

Similar leaks could be occurring in communities across the country even yours.

Most natural gas leaks don’t present an immediate safety threat (though in extreme cases they can). But leaking gas has a powerful effect on the global climate. Each of the dots in the map above represents a methane leak with the near-term climate impact equivalent to driving a car between 100 and 9,000 miles per day.

9,000 miles! That’s like driving a car from NYC to LA, back to NYC, and back to LA—every single day. Just imagine the waste and damage to our climate.

But there is hope. Notice the difference in this map of Indianapolis:

Indianapolis Methane Map

Starting in the early 1980s, Citizens Energy Group, a public trust that operates Indianapolis’s public utility system, implemented an aggressive program to replace mains and service lines with materials less prone to corrosion.

And that has made a tremendous difference.

If we are going to get a grip on the climate threat these leaking pipelines pose, we need more cities to look more like Indianapolis.

The trouble is there is very little reliable information on the extent of these leaks across America.

As we map more cities and build public awareness of our silent climate threat, we’ll expand our grassroots power to demand action state by state and across the country.


TOPICS: Environment, Fracking, Indiana, Natural Gas