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时间:2018-07-09 浏览:106

本文转自《The washington post》发布的题为“The practically cost-free way to slow global warming that Trump won't adopt”的报道。


作者:Editorial Board

日期: 2018.06.30

Gas flares from a stack at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D., in 2015. (Matthew Brown/AP)

北卡罗莱纳州威利斯顿附近的一个天然气处理设施的烟囱里冒出的气体,2015年。(Matthew Brown/美联社)

WHAT IF there were a way to slash planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions at little to no net cost? Opportunities such as these exist because knowledge about them has emerged gradually and the government has failed to require the simple changes needed. An example is curbing methane emissions from the nation’s booming natural gas industry. A new study in the journal Science suggests that the industry can easily do much better, driving immediate emissions benefits while extracting and transporting a fossil fuel that, if handled correctly, is substantially cleaner than coal.

如果有一种方法可以将使全球气候变暖的温室气体排放减少到几乎不产生净成本,那么会怎样?存在这样的机会是因为关于它们的知识或技术以及逐渐出现,而政府未能要求进行所需的简单改变。一个例子是遏制该国蓬勃发展的天然气工业的甲烷排放。 “科学”杂志上的一项新研究表明,该行业可以轻松做得更好,在提取和运输化石燃料的同时提高即时排放效益,如果处理得当,它比煤炭更加清洁。

The application of fracking and horizontal drilling technologies to natural gas production revolutionized the U.S. energy industry over the past decade. Once a major importer of natural gas, the country isramping up exports and burning more and more in its power plants. A steadily low price of natural gashas kept energy prices in check and helped American manufacturing. This revolution has the potential to be good for both the economy and the environment, because burning natural gas produces none of the toxic ambient air pollution that burning coal does, and only about half the greenhouse emissions. The Obama administration made switching from coal to gas a cornerstone of its plans to slash emissions from the power sector.


But that only makes sense if enough gas makes it to power plants to be burned. In its pre-combusted state, natural gas is mostly methane, which is itself an extremely potent greenhouse gas. If a molecule of natural gas leaks into the air before combustion, it traps 84 times as much heat as a molecule of carbon dioxide does over 20 years. During production and transportation, some leakage is inevitable. But if too much seeps into the atmosphere, it negates the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas.


The question of how much methane is leaking out of the country’s booming gas fields, compressors, storage tanks and pipelines has been controversial. The Environmental Protection Agency has relied on a relatively benign estimate of 1.4 percent. The Science study suggests that is far too low. Relying on extensive measurements on the ground and from the air, an army of researchers assembled direct observational data suggesting that the rate is more like 2.3 percent. The difference seems small, but if true it would cut drastically into natural gas’s climate advantage over coal. And there is some reason to believe their estimates might understate the problem, given that they did not closely examine leaky last-mile gas distribution networks.


The good news is that the problem would be easy to fix. The study suggests that the major problem may be with storage tanks, pipelines, seals and other infrastructure that is operating dramatically outside of normal conditions — in other words, obviously in need of repair. Even better, maintenance will often pay for itself or nearly so, as operators collect and sell more gas.

好消息是问题很容易解决。该研究表明,主要问题可能是储罐,管道,密封件和其他在正常条件之外运行的基础设施 - 换句话说,显然需要维修。更好的是,随着运营商收集和销售更多天然气,维护通常会为自己或近乎如此付出代价。

What is missing is the government pressing laggard natural gas operations to improve. Some states have sensible rules; others do not. The Obama administration developed a strong slate of regulationsaddressing methane leakage, but the Trump administration is pressing to roll it back. Not every regulation Obama officials favored made sense. But, once again, in its anti-regulatory fervor, the Trump administration is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.




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