U.S. joins 13 other nations in plan to reduce methane emissions

Fourteen nations agreed yesterday to a non-binding agreement to curtail methane emissions by trapping the gas and using it as a relatively clean-burning fuel before it’s released into the atmosphere. Methane is the second most common heat-trapping greenhouse gas — albeit a distant second to carbon dioxide, as methane accounts for just 16 percent of such gases — mostly generated by landfills, but also by coal mines and oil and gas operations. The U.S. pledged to invest up to $53 million over the next five years in companies that provide methane-trapping technologies to participating countries, which include China, India, Mexico, and Russia. David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council spoke for many enviros when he praised the methane agreement as “useful,” but criticized the Bush administration’s refusal to tackle atmospheric enemy No. 1, carbon dioxide, saying, “compared to the problem that’s being ignored, it’s small potatoes.”