top of page

Say NO to methane gas greenwashing.

“Certified” gas is a recipe for climate disaster

WHAT IS "CERTIFIED" GAS?

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg

Recent attention on runaway methane pollution has spawned a new industry of monitoring companies claiming to “certify” that oil and gas producers are reducing methane emissions from their fracking wells. While no standards currently exist for the certification process, companies are racing ahead to charge the public more for gas they claim has been "certified" as producing fewer emissions, while expanding the market for a greenwashed fossil fuel that worsens the climate crisis.

The science is clear: We can’t meet our climate goals without transitioning away from polluting methane gas. Truly emissions-free gas is not possible, and no amount of methane pollution is safe for people and the planet. The fossil fuel industry is racing ahead to turn “certified” gas into a lifeline, enabling it to extract as much profit as possible by justifying more fracking, pipelines, and polluting export facilities.

Sponsors

PARTNERS

Earthwork's Logo
Oil Change International's Logo.png
Gas Leaks' logo.png
ClimateNexus-logo.png

STAY
UP TO DATE

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg

Sign up here to stay up to date on methane gas greenwashing.

MORE INFO

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg
An icon of the earth on fire

Natural” gas is mostly methane, a climate super-pollutant that warms the planet more than 80 times as much as carbon dioxide.

An icon of a broken pipeline that is leaking gas

Methane leaks constantly — from fracking wells, pipelines, storage facilities and even the appliances in our homes.

An icon of a gas production facility

Research shows “certification” companies frequently fail to register the pollution they are supposed to be monitoring, raising questions about the validity of “certified” gas schemes.

An icon with a triangular warnign sign, with clouds to the right of it

We can’t meet our climate goals without transitioning away from polluting methane gas. Truly emissions-free gas is not possible, and no amount of methane pollution is safe for people and the planet.

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg

CERTIFIED DISASTERS BLOG

Heat-Map-Image.jpg
Methane-Intensity-Chart-v1.jpg

Certified Disasters

January 25, 2024

Gas Certification Programs Will Never Motivate the Worst Polluters

The oil and gas industry claims programs to “certify” gas will reduce emissions and allow them to market their gas as clean and safe for the climate. But a look at the companies that have committed to certification, and those who haven’t, highlights why voluntary programs fail to motivate the worst methane polluters – and why gas certification isn’t a viable climate solution.

An image of a gas production facility

Gas Leaks

July 13, 2023

"Certified" gas is the latest industry greenwashing scheme

In the 1960s, the tobacco industry reacted to mounting scrutiny over their product's lethal effects by introducing...

An image of a gas production facility, emitting smoke. Image by Kouji Tsuru

Earthworks

July 13, 2023

New Report: Certified Gas and Project Canary Threaten Global Climate Goals

Project Canary and similar monitors failed to record 22 pollution events document by optical gas imaging detection...

An image of smoke stacks emitting a lot of smoke into the air. Image by Maxim Tolchinskiy

Lorne Stockman | Oil Change International (OCI)

July 06, 2023

The Way to Eliminate Fossil Methane Is To Phase Out Production

There is a lot of talk from big oil companies about fossil gas being here to stay. Bloomberg recently reported that “(f)rom Shell Plc to Chevron Corp., the world’s top producers plan to accelerate investments in [gas].”

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg

FAQs

What is "certified" gas?

The oil and gas industry is paying companies to monitor methane pollution from their well sites and “certify” that they are working to reduce the amount of methane they release into the atmosphere. To date, there is no set standard for what level of methane leak reduction qualifies gas as “certified” or “responsibly sourced.”

Where is the methane leaking from? How much methane is released from the gas system?

Gas leaks at every step of the process. Drillers diliberately vent it into the air at fracking wells. It leaks from more than 3 million miles of aging pipelines that crisscross the country. And it leaks from furnaces and stoves in our homes and buildings, even when they’re turned off. When all these leaks are taken into account, the full climate impact of methane gas may be just as bad as coal. Researchers have found that if 3% of gas leaks before it reaches the end user, it would put the climate impacts of gas on par with coal. Multiple studies have documented leakage rates higher than 3% — as high as 9% in the Permian Basin.

If we take care of the methane problem, is gas environmentally friendly?

Gas is responsible for more than one-third of US climate pollution, even under conservative estimates of methane leakage. According to climate and energy modeling experts like the International Energy Agency, averting catastrophic climate outcomes requires an urgent shift away from fossil fuels like methane gas — including no new oil and gas drilling and no new gas furnaces installed by 2025.

Who is in charge of monitoring methane pollution from the gas system?

The oil and gas industry mostly self-reports its methane pollution, and is actively fighting efforts to strengthen monitoring practices.

Can the oil and gas industry get its methane problem under control?

Methane pollution is an inevitable part of extracting, transporting and burning gas. As a byproduct of oil drilling, the fossil fuel industry routinely burns it or vents it directly into the air. Methane is also purposefully vented from pipelines during routine maintenance inspections or when excess pressure creates an explosion hazard. Even if the fossil fuel industry were able to plug every leak in the more than 3 million miles of pipelines across the country, the gas system would still emit large amounts of methane.

Isn’t it good for the oil and gas industry to reduce methane pollution? What are the risks of a federal standard for “certified” gas?

Absolutely! The oil and gas industry will soon be required to address its methane pollution problem thanks to forthcoming protections from the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Methane Emissions Reduction Program passed by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act. But a government-sanctioned “certified” gas program threatens to give the fossil fuel industry credit for simply doing the bare minimum to meet their legal obligation to avoid methane pollution. And it gives the industry a free opportunity to misleadingly advertise their product to the public as “clean” or “sustainable.” Despite the scientific consensus about the need to move away from methane gas, the industry is rapidly expanding the gas system: • It plans to double or triple its export capacity on the Gulf Coast, polluting the air and water in communities of color. • It has applied for permits for more than 469 miles of new major gas pipelines that would produce as much pollution as adding more than 200,000 new gas-powered cars on the road. • It connects a new building to the gas system once a minute in the United States, ensuring that they will burn methane in furnaces, water heaters and stoves for decades to come. Despite the serious flaws inherent in the concept of “certified” gas, gas utilities are already paying a higher price for it and passing the extra costs on to the public. The industry is also advertising its use of “certified” gas, leading the public to believe that continued expansion of the gas system is environmentally sustainable.

Flir-Color-Bar.jpg

LETTER TO THE DEPARTMENT
OF ENERGY

WhiteBGRD-Logo.png

Dear Secretary Granholm,

On behalf of (millions) of supporters and oil and gas impacted communities, we write to urge the Department of Energy to stop any efforts to develop a “certified gas” standard." While we strongly support robust and well-enforced regulations to cut methane leaks from the oil and gas sector, we oppose efforts that aim to provide “extra credit” which the gas industry uses to promote growth in the production, trade and consumption of methane gas. Such growth is entirely out of sync with climate goals and endangers public health. No amount of methane pollution is safe, and gas and oil operations will never be able to eliminate all leaks completely.

Gas certification is a dangerous diversion. Certifying and promoting lower-emissions gas has the potential to undermine the transition away from fossil fuels, the number one strategy to alleviate the climate crisis. As recent announcements from BP and Shell show, the oil and gas industry is already using the “low emissions” narrative to reverse course on climate goals and increase the production and transportation of methane gas far into the future.

A DOE standard would only bolster the industry's effort to misrepresent methane gas as part of the long-term solution to the climate crisis, when the scientific consensus makes it clear that it is not. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called for an immediate pivot away from fossil fuels, including no new oil and gas investments, starting in 2021. The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions Scenario, which charts a course for energy sector emissions to align with a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, clearly shows that even with ambitious methane emissions mitigation, gas production must decline by at least 22% by 2030 and 72% by 2050 compared to 2021 levels. Therefore, it is clear that methane emissions mitigation must go hand-in-hand with a phase-out of gas production rather than be presented as a solution to the methane gas climate issue.

Fossil fuel development is inherently risky beyond the air pollution it produces. Despite the fact that oil and gas wastes often contain hazardous and even radioactive properties, they are exempt from parts of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, our federal hazardous waste law. And hydraulic fracturing poses a threat to drinking water resources because of the “Halliburton loophole” that exempts it from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oil and gas-impacted communities also face noise and light pollution, congested, damaged roads, and increased traffic accidents. Methane pollution isn’t just a problem at the point of extraction. It leaks – or is purposefully released – from more than 3 million miles of gas pipelines that crisscross the country. And it leaks from the appliances inside homes, schools and businesses – even when they’re turned off. Certification programs will do next to nothing to address these sources of methane pollution, and could even make them worse by providing a justification for the continued expansion of the gas system.

Despite scientific consensus around the need to transition away from methane gas, the gas system is being expanded at an alarming pace, counter to agreed upon climate goals. The industry is planning to double or triple export capacity on the Gulf Coast, polluting the air and water in communities of color. It has applied for permits for more than 469 miles of new major gas pipelines, and a new building is connected to the gas system once a minute in the United States.

Setting a standard for “certified gas” risks contributing to a public perception that the gas system is getting “cleaner,” giving the fossil fuel industry cover to continue expanding the use of methane gas for decades, instead of clean electricity. We know that the best way to curb air pollution from fossil fuel production, distribution, and use is to begin a managed transition away from it.

Furthermore, there is insufficient proof that creating a market where so-called "certified gas" can be bought and sold at a premium has any impact on reducing total methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. On the contrary, a recent study from Earthworks and Oil Change International revealed numerous on-the-ground failures to detect oil and gas pollution by one of the largest gas certification companies. It is alarming that the DOE is considering developing a "clean gas" standard despite these emerging certification programs aren't actually effective at detecting and therefore reducing sector-wide emissions.

As we have outlined, all gas that is produced comes with significant immediate and long-term consequences. The appearance of methane reductions cannot be an excuse for continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. We urge you to announce publicly that you will not set a standard for “certified gas” by any name, and instead support stronger methane regulations, help ensure that the oil and gas industry has a credible plan for winding down the production and use of gas, and support policies that further hasten the expansion of fossil-fuel free energy. We would be happy to discuss our concerns further in a meeting with Department of Energy staff.

Sincerely,

Open letter to the Department of Energy:
Gas certification is a dangerous diversion

Earthworks-logo.png
GasLeaks-logo.png
ClimateNexus-logo.png

Signatories:

Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania | Stewards of the Potomac Highlands | Hispanic Access Foundation | Liveable Arlington | Waterkeeper Alliance | 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations | 350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley | Turtle Island Restoration Network | Animals Are Sentient Beings Inc | North American Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE) | Sunrise New Orleans | New Energy Economy | 350 Chicago | California Communities Against Toxics | Friends of the Earth | Bronx Climate Justice North | Earth Ethics, Inc. | Montana Environmental Information Center | Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light | Wall of Women | 350PDX | Vote Climate | Stand.earth | Rogue Climate | 350 Triangle | Sunflower Alliance | 350Brooklyn | The Revolving Door Project | The People's Justice Council | FracTracker Alliance | The Revolving Door Project | Center for Biological Diversity | Greenpeace USA | Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania | Save RGV | Change the Chamber*Lobby for Climate | Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE) | People Over Pipelines | Center for OIl and Gas Organizing | Endangered Species Coalition | Western Colorado Alliance | Sierra Club | AjO | Public Health Law Center | Better Brazoria:  Clean Air & Water | 350 Bay Area Action | 350 Seattle | Texas Campaign for the Environment | Interfaith Power & Light | San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibillity | New Mexico & El Paso Interfaith Power and Light | Occupy Bergen County | Property Rights and Pipeline Center | Delaware Riverkeeper Network | Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area | Oil and Gas Action Network | Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Chicago IL | Alliance for Affordable Energy | Rise Up WV | The Enviro Show | Beyond Toxics | Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community | New England, Canada, and Atlantic Provinces Alliance | Port Arthur Community Action Network(PACAN) | Sightline Institute | New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN) | Carbon Free Palo Alto | Electrify RVA | Green New Deal Virginia | South Asian Fund For Education Scholarship and Training Inc | Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light | The YEARS Project | Unite North Metro Denver | Natural Capitalism Solutions | New Mexico Climate Justice | 350 Sacramento | Ocean Conservation Research | Good Neighbor Steering Committee of Benicia | Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition | Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility | Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsbility | 350 Mass | San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council | Zero Hour | Vessel Project of Louisiana | Physicians for Social Responsibility/Florida Chapter | Andy Gheorghiu Consulting | Interfaith EarthKeepers | Beyond Extreme Energy | Our Revolution Ohio | CCAN Action Fund | Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) | Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility | Better Path Coalition | Berks Gas Truth | PASUP | GreenLatinos | Oxfam America | Public Citizen | Chaparral Community Coalition for a Healthy Environment | Rachel Carson Council | PSR Colorado | Putting Down Roots | Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) | Public Citizen’s Texas Office | Fossil Free California | 350 Pittsburgh | RE Sources | Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (CALL) | Indian Social Action Forum | Biofuelwatch | AbibiNsroma Foundation | Urgewald | SWIMS Foundation | Climate Action Network Australia | NBCAN | Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum | Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO) | Razom We Stand | Quantum Leap | West Michigan Environmental Action Council | Natural Resources Defense Council | Selkirk Conservation Alliance | SEE (Social Eco Education) | FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE NIGERIA | GreenFaith | Conexiones Climaticas | Justice Institute Guyana Inc. | 198 methods | Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York | Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) | PSR Arizona | George Mason University Center for Climate | Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program | Elders Climate Action | Eco Action Families | ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) | North American Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE) | Bold Alliance |  350 Colorado | Bold Alliance | GBPSR | For a Better Bayou | Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO) | Food & Water Watch | Philadelphia Solar Energy Association | 350NYC

Use the map below to see methane pollution events that “certified” gas companies missed:

An icon of a gas production facility

Click on the yellow and red icons to view the details of each instance we found pollution and find out whether Project Canary monitors captured it too.

bottom of page