Methane Gets its Day in the Los Angeles Spotlight

Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge at a press conference prior to the event

Los Angeles City Council members Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge at a press conference prior to the event

Los Angeles has a methane problem. Recent analysis by NASA and CalTech reveals that concentrations of methane in the Los Angeles basin are more than 60 percent higher than previously estimated. That’s a serious issue, because the invisible, heat-trapping gas packs a volatile climate change punch that is 84 times greater than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released.

The good news is that cutting methane pollution is a no-nonsense, can’t-lose proposition for fighting climate change. A dynamic discussion of solutions to the methane challenge brought nearly 200 people to a symposium in downtown Los Angeles last week.

The event was sponsored by EDF, in partnership with Climate Resolve and 11 other organizations representing diverse communities across California. Participants heard from climate change and methane experts from leading academic and research institutions about the science of methane pollution and what can be done to control it. The event drew officials from local, state, and federal agencies; utility representatives; business leaders; and a large array of concerned citizens.

NBC4 Los Angeles has a great story HERE.

The symposium was held on the heels of a press conference featuring L.A. City Council members Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge, along with leaders from local non-profits. At the press conference, Councilmember Koretz announced an initiative to make Los Angeles a national leader in cutting methane pollution, with an eye towards creating solutions that can be replicated elsewhere.

One group of symposium panelists focused on the importance of (and science behind) methane as a climate change pollutant, and what we know about emissions sources in L.A. and California more broadly, and another group discussed the public policy options for controlling methane pollution in California and beyond.

One key takeaway point heard over and over: cleaning up methane is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to address the climate problem. A 2014 report by ICF International found that by adopting already available technologies and practices, industry could cut methane emissions by 40 percent at a cost of less than a penny per thousand cubic feet of produced natural gas.

Speakers (and their presentations) included:

  • Paul Koretz, Los Angeles City Council, District Five
  • Sofia Menemenlis, Alliance for Climate Education
  • Paul Wennberg, California Institute of Technology
  • Riley Duren, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Abhilash Vijayan, California Air Resources Board
  • Guido Franco, California Energy Commission
  • Ryan McCarthy, California Air Resources Board
  • Tim O'Connor, Environmental Defense Fund, introductory remarks and presentation (oil and gas production focus)
  • Deanna Haines, Southern California Gas Company (natural gas distribution focus)
  • Omar Moghaddam, City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Sanitation (landfill and wastewater methane focus)
  • Rachel Tornek, Climate Action Reserve (animal waste focus)
  • Rob McCulloch, Blue Green Alliance (environment and labor / job nexus focus)

You can learn more about EDF’s actions to combat methane pollution here and to find out how you can take action here.

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