Methane danger in CSG, scientist says

Brisbane Times, 10.08.2010

The coal seam gas (CSG) industry being developed in Queensland could create huge amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane, a Climate Institute scientist says.

“It’s so frustrating when I hear that Queensland is opening up great swathes of country, of productive land in particular, to coal seam gas production,” said Corey Watts, regional projects manager with the Climate Institute.

“With thousands of potentially unregulated, unmonitored bores coming on-line in the next few years, we could see a massive spike in Queensland’s methane emissions.”

Mr Watts told a forum about the future of Australia’s grazing industries in Brisbane that “molecule for molecule, methane is many times more potent a greenhouse pollutant than carbon dioxide”.

In the past 160 years methane levels had grown by 150 per cent and continue to do so.

“We are now at levels of methane in the atmosphere that haven’t been around for 600,000 years,” Mr Watts said.

“Methane is thought to have contributed to about a third of the (global) warming.”

However methane drops out of the atmosphere after a decade or so, much faster than carbon dioxide, meaning it can bring quick and lasting relief and go towards preventing runaway global warming, Mr Watts said.

He said while grazing industries are attempting to lower methane production, CSG will hugely increase the amount in the atmosphere.

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