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The CLEAN Future Act Part 6: Super Pollutants


When you think “super pollutant”, you’re probably thinking of ectoplasmic goo or something sci-fi related right?

Well, not exactly. Instead, gases like methane, F-gases, black carbon, and ground-level ozone are all super pollutants that heavily damage our atmosphere alongside carbon dioxide. Super pollutants are especially drastic because they can cause thousands of times more damage to our climate than carbon dioxide can.

How would CLEAN aim to combat super pollutants?

The CLEAN Future Act aims to direct the EPA to keep a closer eye on the oil and gas sectors by regulating methane emissions. Back in 2012, the U.S. emitted several billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, with methane contributing 10% of that amount. CLEAN wants to reduce those emissions by 65% by 2025 and 90% by 2030. CLEAN also wants to prohibit new instances of burning natural gas in oil production, or “flaring”.

What about natural gas infrastructure against super pollutants?

The CLEAN Future Act would create a grant program within the Department of Energy to help states reduce their methane emissions levels from natural gas producers. The goal of this directive is to help natural gas companies champion efforts to keep a closer eye on their pipeline infrastructures. This way, if a pipeline needs to be fixed or replaced, then the DOE would help cover the costs.

What would the CLEAN Future Act do about black carbon super pollutants?

Black carbon, or more commonly known as soot, is a nastier form of carbon dioxide as it’s formed from an incomplete combustion process. Not all carbon dioxide is fully combusted, and the result of that is when CO2, carbon monoxide, organic compounds, organic carbon, and black carbon all mix together to form soot. Soot has a very short lifespan but is capable of inflicting a large amount of damage to the climate, agriculture, and human health.

The CLEAN Future Act would charge the EPA to evaluate if the U.S. requires new rules and regulations for the goal of reducing black carbon levels. CLEAN would also direct the EPA to participate in international efforts to reduce soot emissions and provide support for affected communities.

the clean future act pt 6 super pollutants

Photo by Pixabay,

Will this be a challenge to accomplish?

The short answer: Yes.

The bill mentions that it wants to monitor the oil and gas sector for methane emissions. The problem is they’re not the only sectors that use natural gas. The natural gas companies will need to be more accountable for their properties in the future. This is a major issue because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that can yield serious consequences if a pipeline does burst. Between 2010 and 2017, natural gas leaks accounted for 17.55 billion cubic feet, which would’ve been able to heat 233,000 homes for a year.

Why is it taking so long for pipelines to be fitted against super pollutants?

The U.S. has a serious infrastructure problem. The large majority of gas pipes were installed in U.S. neighborhoods and cities over 50 years ago, and the Department of Energy is now starting to approve projects and funding to fix them. The problem is, they don’t seem very motivated to fix the problems that come up. Another issue is there are so many areas in the U.S. that require replacement of rusted pipes that it’ll take decades to fix. The CLEAN Future Act wants methane emissions to start going down by 2025, but unless we invest a hefty sum of overtime and new workers into the construction sectors in the next few weeks, there’s no way we’d be able to meet that quota.

Refer to IBEW for more info:

What about black carbon as super pollutants?

Yes, it is possible. Black carbon (soot) is a product of incomplete combustion. If the oil and gas sectors could invest more money into researching how to develop a process of complete combustion that would only leave us with the current amount of soot loose in the climate today.

However, there is one area that they’ve barely acknowledged.

Towards the end of the section, CLEAN would direct the EPA to assist those in indigenous communities that have been affected by soot. Why is this a problem? The U.S. has always had a bad track record when it comes to helping indigenous and lower income communities. This comes back to the earlier section of environmental justice, or environmental racism in this case, as communities of color and native populations have always been the source of dump sites for many sectors of the U.S. You can check out this link below detailing instances of environmental racism.

What can be done about super pollutants?

Educate yourselves and hold those accountable for all the environmental trouble. It doesn’t seem like much, but learning about what’s happening to the climate can help us achieve proper environmental justice. Also, it’ll give lower-income communities a chance to finally receive justice.

Next week we’ll tackle the last section of the bill: Economy-wide policies.

Check o

ut these links if you want to learn more about super pollutants:,to%20curb%20alongside%20carbon%20dioxide.&text=Aggressively%20reducing%20emissions%20of%20these,%2C%20social%2C%20and%20economic%20benefits.

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