October 17, 2023
Investing In Mine Methane Capture Protects Our Environment While Securing A More Sustainable Energy Future

By Mike Moore

Protecting our environment is an issue that continues to be on the minds of millions of Americans. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans’ concerns about the quality of the environment remained at a two-decade high for the seventh straight year. With these issues front and center for so many, there is an urgency for action to address some of the most important environmental challenges we face. Fortunately, when it comes to preventing harmful greenhouse gasses like methane from being emitted into our atmosphere, there is a ready solution to not only protect our environment but also benefit our economy.

Methane, the second most abundant greenhouse gas, can negatively contribute to global warming and climate change. In the U.S., approximately 8% of methane emissions can be attributed to mine methane, a gas that is intentionally vented into the atmosphere to ensure worker safety at active mining operations. The gas can also escape from abandoned mining sites. This is a particular concern for local communities near current or inactive mining areas. 

Mine methane capture is a commonsense solution to address this significant portion of methane emissions with clear environmental and economic benefits.

A common practice in mine degasification for safety purposes is the installation of engineered boreholes that supplement mining ventilation systems in reducing underground methane concentrations. Here, the gas can be captured, and once the gas is captured and processed, the mine methane can then be utilized for a variety of beneficial uses such as electric generation, home heating, manufacturing feedstock, and alternative fuels such as CNG, LNG, and hydrogen. These alternative fuels can go on to power American aviation, maritime transportation, and on-road vehicles.

Mine methane capture fights climate change by reducing the amount of dangerous methane waste gas released into the atmosphere and brings economic growth by creating good-paying jobs in the same communities most affected by the energy transition. Allowing methane gas to escape to the atmosphere has clear environmental concerns, but wasting the gas is also a wasted opportunity.

Yet despite these economic and environmental benefits, less than 2% of active U.S. coal mines today capture and utilize the vented methane.

This underutilization of mine methane capture is why we are launching theWaste Gas Capture Initiative (WGCI). The initiative aims to raise awareness of the benefits of capturing mine methane and encourage the creation of a strong methane capture industry here in the United States. We favor incentives to encourage this behavior.

Without action, waste methane gas will continue to pollute our atmosphere. Fortunately, we have a ready solution to address it. A strong waste methane capture industry can help communities around mining areas and other similar regions increase economic activity and clean up the local environment. These are some of the most disadvantaged communities across America and areas hardest hit by the energy transition. We have an opportunity to generate new jobs and economic activity in these communities while addressing a significant environmental concern. Now is the time to act on this important issue.

To learn more about the Waste Gas Capture Initiative and mine methane capture, please visit https://www.wastegascapture.com/.

Mike Moore is the Executive Director of the Waste Gas Capture Initiative.