U.S. Helps Chinese Take Stock of Methane Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has committed more than $1 million to assess the economic and technical feasibility of recovering and using methane from coal mines in China, according to a Sept. 16 press release.

If methane recovery programs are implemented at all three project sites, up to 1.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent could be reduced each year. That's equal to the annual emissions of up to 330,000 passenger vehicles.

Under its commitment to the Methane to Markets partnership, EPA is conducting three full-scale feasibility studies at the Luizhang Mine in Anhui Province, a group of six mines in the Songzao coal basin in Chongqing, and a group of six mines in the Hebi region of Henan Province. The studies will:

• determine the amount of methane emitted from each mine,

• assess the end uses for captured methane,

•¬†evaluate different methane-capture technologies, and

•¬†estimate the costs and profits of a methane recovery and use program.

Mining coal allows methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, to escape into the atmosphere. In addition, methane is the primary constituent of natural gas and an important energy source. Capturing and using coal mine methane, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves energy, enhances mine safety, and provides a new source of revenue for the mine.

The United States and China work collaboratively to promote the recovery of coal mine methane through the Methane to Markets partnership, the U.S. EPA's Coalbed Methane Outreach Program, the China Coalbed Methane Clearinghouse, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, and the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Methane to Markets, launched in 2004, is a public/private partnership that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world. China and the U.S. were two of the founding members of the partnership, which has grown to include 27 countries and more than 750 private sector entities, financial institutions, nongovernmental agencies, and other organizations.

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