Deep in the heart of Texas, inside a massive oil rig, people are trying to locate and stop an invisible threat: methane.
A recent CNN video with journalist Bill Weir, showed a group of scientists try to find an invisible threat—methane. They claim that these companies leak or release enough gas, that they could heat up around 2,000,000 homes each year. These losses come from machinery leaking the gas into the environment, and could range to the companies just burning any extra oil that is not sold. These events are all very bad for the environment, and could have long term effects.
Many scientists have found a way to locate the methane, for methane is completely invisible to the naked eye, and carries no smell. Normally, finding these leakes would be extremely hard, but alas, this is no normal situation. However, the methane hunters have used an infrared camera and a Picarro Cavity Ring-Down Laser Spectroscope to combat this invisible enemy. These instruments, however, are incredibly sensitive. They are able to pick up something as small as someone’s breath when they walk by. Using these two tools that can create maps of the area and show where methane is along with how much is in that area.
This threat– methane– is invisible to the eye and has no smell, and finding it requires an infrared camera and a Picarro Cavity Ring-Down Laser Spectroscope. The lone star state is the second largest oil producing state– second only to Alaska– and is responsible for producing about 20% of the United States’ energy. This mass production is due to the abundance in natural gas and crude oil reserves. With all these oil reserves, the state has many oil rigs, which employ about 150,000 people. This being all reported by Texas State Energy Profile. With the amount of people that work in these jobs, mistakes are bound to happen, machinery could fail or have cracks in it. Employees could leak the gas themselves, and they can also gain too much oil that they can’t sell all of it. All of these situations result in gas being leaked into the environment.
Additionally, the war against methane has sparked a political conflict among party lines. Recently, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that would make it hard to get land for oil, lowering gas production and hurting those in the oil & gas industry. However, for the U.S. government, such an order would further a decrease in the amount of methane being leaked. Meanwhile, in reaction to Biden’s executive order, Texas Governor Greg Abott signed his own executive order to repel President Biden’s own executive order, proclaiming that Texas would continue to be producincing its own gas.
The war on methane has forced Americans into a political war drawn by party lines. It’s likely that this dispute will result in Republican-led states avoiding to pass legislation that would hinder methane use and economic activity in the state. Meanwhile, it’s just as likely that Democrat-led states will seek to pass legislation that will order lowering methane usage within the state.
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ARTICLE BY: ERIC OTT
FBA U.S. NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF
PHOTO CREDITS: QUARTZ