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Passing gas, killing trees and YOUR LAWN OMG

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Author: Charley on the MTA

Talk about the hyper-local effects of fossil fuels: Gas leaks kill trees, create ozone, and — you may want to sit down before reading this — brown your lawn*:

Thousands of area gas leaks poison environment, kill trees – [News – Milford Daily News – Milford, MA.

On the ground level, natural gas, which is roughly 95 percent methane, creates thick, toxic ozone that leads to respiratory problems such as asthma, especially in children and the elderly, and strangles plant life around it. Roadside trees, often called “shade trees,” fall victim to gas leaks. They die slowly over time as they absorb the gas through channels designed for oxygen. The roots suffocate.

Gas companies call the leaks “lost and unaccounted for gas.” It’s just figured into the rate formula. Roughly 2.7 percent of gas is lost every year, according to Phillips’ research.

On a climate level, the leaks alone make up an estimated 10 percent of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas inventory. That’s as much as all the factories in the state, said Audrey Schulman, a utilities consultant turned activist and president of Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) – “and it’s a lot easier to fix the leaks than stop the factories,” she said. [emphasis ed.]

(It’s a really great article — read the whole thing. It features friends-of-the-blog Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Joel Wool. Kudos to reporter Bill Shanner for fine work.)

For background on methane and ground level gases, let’s ask NASA (2005 article):

According to new calculations, methane’s effect on warming the world’s climate may be double what is currently thought. The new interpretations reveal methane emissions may account for a whopping third of the climate warming from well-mixed greenhouse gases between the 1750s and today. The IPCC report states that methane increases in our atmosphere account for only about one sixth of the total effect of well-mixed greenhouse gases on warming.

Part of the reason the new calculations give a larger effect is that they include the effect methane has on air pollution. A major component of air pollution is near-surface-level or tropospheric ozone, which is not directly emitted, but is instead formed chemically from methane other hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. The IPCC report includes the effects of tropospheric ozone increases on climate, but it is not attributed to particular sources. By categorizing the climate effects according to emissions, Shindell and colleagues found the total effects of methane emissions are substantially larger. In other words, the true source of some of the warming that is normally attributed to smog is really due to methane that leads to increased smog.

Oh, that sounds good.

As we know, Boston leaks a stunning amount of gas — a rate at which natural gas’s supposed greenhouse effect advantage over coal is essentially zero — contra ads by industry groups

And again: We’ve got two companies literally coming into your backyards wanting to build gigantic new pipelines with capacity they haven’t sold, paid for by ratepayers, selling a massively harmful product that is freely spewing out the other end.

This is dumb.


And our Governor supports them. Maybe he still isn’t smart enough.



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