MethaneSAT and other orbiting instruments offer wide scale, high precision and low cost

Contacts: Jon Coifman, (212) 616-1325, jcoifman@methanesat.org

(SAN FRANCISCO – June 28, 2021) Rapid advances in satellite technology combined with robust and transparent reporting of satellite data will play an important role in helping companies and regulators meet new emissions standards in the bill heading to President Joe Biden’s desk after bi-partisan passage Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The measure – which passed both the House and Senate with active support from many oil and gas companies – restores Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting methane emissions from new wells, processing plants and other facilities which were rescinded late in the previous administration. The resolution also clears the way for stronger, wider-reaching standards promised by the Biden administration, which would cover hundreds of thousands of existing facilities.

“Stronger regulations, along with the industry’s own voluntary commitments, are raising the bar. Achieving these goals requires an enormous amount of new data to measure and track emissions over wide areas and many locations. Until now, that’s mostly been done on a spot-basis, if at all,” said Dr. Steven Hamburg, MethaneSAT project co-lead and Chief Scientist at MethaneSAT’s parent, Environmental Defense Fund. “Now satellites are changing the game. They give us worldwide scale and the ability to track progress cost effectively on a continuous basis.”

MethaneSAT will be able to detect and quantify methane almost anywhere on earth, at concentrations as small as three parts per billion. Under construction right now in Colorado, MethaneSAT is scheduled to be ready for launch in October 2022. Because of its high sensitivity, MethaneSAT will measure emissions that other satellites can’t see. Quantifying total emissions from all sources big and small is key to assessing progress.

“MethaneSAT is designed to accelerate methane reductions by giving operators and regulators new ability to locate and quantify total emissions, and also stimulate swift and effective action by making the data public in near-real time, so that anybody can see how much methane is coming from where – and who is responsible for it,” Hamburg said.

Unique mission

MethaneSAT is a subsidiary of the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund, which has a long record of working with both business and policymakers to create innovative, science-based solutions to critical environmental challenges.

A leading source of expertise on methane emissions, EDF coordinated a sweeping series of studies that produced more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers involving more than 150 academic and industry co-authors who assessed methane emissions at every stage in the U.S. oil and gas supply chain.

Methane emissions from oil and gas operations, agriculture and other human activities is responsible for at least a quarter of today’s climate warming. Cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry 45% by the year 2025 would have the same 20-year climate benefit as shutting down one-third of the world’s coal-fired power plants.

The idea for MethaneSAT was first unveiled by EDF President Fred Krupp in an April 2018 TED Talk, as one of the inaugural group of world-changing ideas selected for seed funding by the Audacious Project, successor to the TED Prize.

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MethaneSAT, LLC is an affiliate of Environmental Defense Fund, Incorporated, a leading international nonprofit organization. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships to create transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. Follow us on Twitter at @MethaneSAT, or connect with us at www.MethaneSat.org. Copyright © 2019 MethaneSAT, LLC. All Rights Reserved.