WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 7, 2009) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a final ruling that methane poses a danger to human health and to the environment.
E.P.A. administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that the 2007 Supreme Court decision required the agency to regulate methane because it threatens human health and welfare.
The E.P.A. website states that “Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that … is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period and is emitted from a variety of natural and human-influenced sources.” The primary human-influenced source is flatulence, Ms. Jackson said.
There are also high levels of antimony tri-oxide in flatulence (it provides some flame retardance against afterburner ignition) in human-sourced methane.
In her prepared remarks, Ms. Jackson reported on the Methane to Markets Partnership. “It is intended to reduce global methane emissions, with a focus on cost-effective, near-term methane recovery from colorectal sources primarily in the United States,” she said. “A healthy individual releases 3.5 oz. of gas in a single flatulent emission, or more than a pint every single day.”
Beginning in early-2013, the E.P.A. will phase in a program to capture all human-sourced methane at each originator. “Our research shows it is far more effective to issue each citizen with an individual, belt- or shoulder-mounted, man-portable collection and storage tank (MOST).” The program will begin in ten large urban areas including New York City, Los Angeles, and Orlando in the first two years, then fan out across the country.
“My Agency is working with three prime contractors to produce prototypes now,” Ms. Jackson said. Recycling centers will be tasked to retrieve the MOSTs for emptying and return to other users.
Industry groups have criticized the decision, saying that the regulation of the near-ubiquitous methane, will be technically challenging, legally complex, and will impose huge costs on an already challenged economy.
“The fake-leaked British climate research group e-mail messages have stirred doubts among a number of people about the integrity of some climate science,” Ms. Jackson said, “but we have serious research to back up the methane regulations we are announcing today.”