DENVER – Companies in the business of capturing lost methane, the primary component of natural gas, are taking their show on the road this week to present to local officials on Colorado's Western Slope.
Jim Armstrong, co-founder and president of Apogee Scientific, says the nation loses over $1 billion of methane gas every year due to faulty equipment, or venting and flaring at oil and gas well sites.
Armstrong's company specializes in a new mobile infrared technology that can detect emissions from up to 100 feet away. He says it's good business to find methane leaks.
"If you find the leaks, you're saving yourself product," he says. "It just has plusses to it. It's one of the few pollution control areas where, as you find the leaks, you're actually saving money."
Armstrong cites an ICF International report that says reducing methane waste is not only cost-effective, but also translates into net profits for energy producers. He says Colorado currently ranks third in the nation's growing methane-mitigation industry, with more than 40 companies at work cutting pollution.
The Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency are both considering regulations on methane pollution. Armstrong says if cutting waste becomes standard operating procedure for oil and gas producers, the mitigation sector could boom – leading to more jobs that pay well.
Armstrong adds that reducing waste isn't just good for the economy, it could also make a difference in slowing climate change.
"We all hear about carbon dioxide being a greenhouse gas," he says. "Well, methane is 80 times greater, according to EPA studies, than CO2 in capturing heat, and therefore, affecting the environment."
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, rules passed last year in Colorado limiting methane waste are projected to reduce more than 100,000 tons of methane and some 90,000 tons of smog-forming pollutants each year. That's equal to the amount produced by all the cars and trucks in the state.
Armstrong says it's one more reason to stop methane pollution.