By Sean Wright
In 1933, Milton Heath senior opened a small, family-run consulting firm to find leaks from natural gas pipelines by conducting vegetation surveys in New England Fields. More than 80 years later, the family business has grown substantially, and now the Texas-based company provides more than 1,200 manufacturing and service jobs across the country. Their business model may have changed—but their commitment to finding and reducing leaks of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—has not wavered.
Stories like Heath’s are the focus of a new report released this week by Datu Research. The Emerging U.S. Methane Mitigation Industry looks at the growing industry that specializes in manufacturing technologies and providing services that help oil and gas companies reduce their environmental impact and deliver a valuable product to market. The report analyzes more than 70 companies that limit emissions of methane and provide high-paying, highly skilled jobs to thousands across the country. These companies are part of an increasingly strong market growing amidst rising awareness of the need to reduce methane pollution alongside the domestic energy boom.
This analysis shows the economic growth of this burgeoning sector can be seen in 46 states, in over 500 service and manufacturing locations. The majority of these companies are small businesses, and they are putting America to work to build and support solutions that clean our air, while providing in-demand occupations in high salaried jobs. The dozens of companies featured in the report are the picture of American ingenuity. Whether the companies specialize in lasers, infrared cameras, leak detection and repair, low-bleed pneumatics, gas capture devices, etc… each stands ready with proven solutions.
The report comes as the EPA is considering whether to implement national standards to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Good, comprehensive policy would help drive the full extent of emissions reductions we know are possible, and which this industry is poised to deliver at a massive scale. Utilizing these services and technologies to reduce methane leaks is a win-win for our climate, pocketbook, and communities. With the right rules in place, these companies can grow jobs in states like Ohio where manufacturing jobs are getting a boost from these types of industries.
“The oil and gas industry is growing every day in our state, creating thousands of jobs for Ohioans,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said. “This report illustrates Ohio is at the forefront nationally, creating jobs and protecting the environment while reducing emissions from this new industry.”
The report clearly shows that companies and technology to reduce methane exist, and the benefits are many. But without putting firm national standards in place, methane emissions, already responsible for about a quarter of the warming we experience today, are expected to continue to increase about five percent by 2018. It’s promising that some companies have started to look out for their bottom line and take action to reduce methane leaks, but as an EPA Inspector General report found, these voluntary measures are not enough to address the magnitude of the problem – one that leads to $1.8 billion in lost product every year.
We all want economic growth, a healthy private sector, good-paying jobs and a clean America. This industry and their technologies highlighted in Datu’s report, show that, with the right policies, we can have it all.
This post originally appeared on our EDF+Business blog.