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‘Clean energy’ methane laws alarm activists

Following the European Parliament’s decision to label ‘natural gas’ as clean energy, methane laws are raising concern among environmentalists in the US.

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In January, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine passed a law designating methane gas as ‘green energy’, a move that garnered widespread criticism in the US media. Now Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Lee, has opted to do the same, signing new legislation last month which few press outlets picked up on at the time.

The situations in the two states are different. In the case of Ohio, it’s unclear how much power the laws now grant and what the direct impact will be. This means it changes how the term ‘clean energy’ can be applied but does not influence funding or building regulations.

By comparison, in Tennessee the policy stipulates that gas must now be included in any clean energy strategy developed by local governments. Effectively, this means the could be a technical requirement for developers to continue using the fuel type.

According to the Energy and Policy Institute, more than 20 states have passed so-called ‘preemption bills’, which look to prohibit cities from limiting or banning the use of gas in buildings.

While methane is a natural occurring, it is considered the single largest driver of global warming patterns. This is due to the fact it absorbs much more energy than carbon dioxide, increase pressure in the atmosphere, where it stays for around 12 years. This is a significantly shorter lifespan than CO2, but the warming impact of methane is thought to be around 80 times greater.

 In 2022, the European Parliament was accused of the ‘biggest act of greenwashing in history’ as the bloc voted down proposals to remove gas and nuclear energy from a draft green finance labelling system. This is despite the fact that, in addition to methane, natural gas also produces a significant amount of CO2 – around have the level of burning coal, which has gradually been phased out of the energy mix in most developed countries due to the environmental damage it causes.

More on greenwashing:

 

After greenwashing: A guide to effective environmental and offsetting targets

Can aviation ever be truly sustainable?

EU plans to target greenwashing firms with penalties

‘Biggest act of greenwashing in history’: Europe labels gas and nuclear ‘green’

 

Images:  You Le

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