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International Methane to Markets Partnership to Enhance Clean Energy Sources and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Release Date: 07/28/2004
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Contact: Cynthia Bergman, 202-564-9828 / bergman.cynthia@epa.gov


(Washington, DC – July 28, 2004) U.S. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt today announced that the United States will join efforts with Australia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, and Ukraine to develop and promote cooperation on the recovery and use of methane. Methane is a clean-burning fuel that is the main component of natural gas and is also the second most prevalent greenhouse gas from human sources. The Methane to Markets Partnership will deliver significant energy, safety, and environmental benefits through the recovery and use of methane, while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The Partnership will focus on deploying cost-effective technologies in landfill gas-to-energy projects, methane recovery projects at coal mines, and improvements in natural gas systems.

“The Bush Administration welcomes this global partnership, a partnership that has the double benefit of capturing the second most abundant greenhouse gas and turning it to productive use as a clean-burning fuel,” said Administrator Leavitt. “Together we will harness the power of collaboration, technology and markets to achieve verifiable reductions of global methane emissions.”

Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy added, "I am pleased to join my colleagues from EPA, the State Department, and US AID in launching this important international climate change initiative. The Methane to Markets partnership follows our successful establishment of the International Partnership for a Hydrogen Economy and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. In addition to very substantial near-term greenhouse gas reductions, this new partnership will benefit the economies of developing nations across the world."

Significantly reducing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective ways to realize immediate environmental benefits due to methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas and short atmospheric lifetime. In addition, capturing and using recovered methane provides a valuable, clean-burning energy source that improves quality of life in local communities. This Partnership has the potential to reduce net methane emissions by up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent annually by 2015 and continue at that level or higher in the future. To give a sense of scale of the level of reductions, this would be the carbon equivalent of removing 33 million cars from roadways for one year or eliminating emissions from fifty 500 MW coal-fired power plants.

The U.S. will commit up to $53 million over the next five years to facilitate the development and implementation of methane projects in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. EPA will play a central role in the Partnership by building on the success of the Agency’s voluntary domestic methane partnership programs. Since 1993, EPA and other U.S. Agencies have been working collaboratively with industry to identify and implement cost-effective methane emission reduction technologies and management practices. These programs have helped bring total U.S. methane emissions in 2001 to more than 5% lower than emissions in 1990, in spite of significant economic growth over that time period. Other Departments will also play a central role in the Partnership. These include the Department of State, which leads on international climate change policy and activities; the Department of Energy, which has valuable expertise in natural gas and coal mine methane technologies; and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides important technical expertise in the economic reform of energy sectors to create markets that support private sector projects in developing countries and those with economies in transition.

Countries participating in the Methane to Markets Partnership are expected to undertake activities aimed at reducing and capturing methane emissions at landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas systems. It is anticipated that developed countries will work with developing countries in undertaking these efforts. The specific details of the Partnership will be established and formalized through further discussion between participating member countries.

The success of the Partnership will rely on cooperation between the public and private sectors as Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, noted, “This new Partnership among developed and developing countries -- with its emphasis on practical solutions and strong participation from the private sector -- will produce energy efficiency, increase safety, and provide significant, near-term economic and environmental benefits for addressing global climate change.”

The Methane to Markets Partnership will be officially launched by developed countries, developing countries and countries with economies in transition with large methane emission sources or special expertise at a Ministerial Conference in November 2004 in Washington, D.C.

For more information visit: http://www.epa.gov/methane/international.html