New York uses drones to search for abandoned, leaking gas wells to slow climate change


The New York Environmental Agency is deploying drones to detect and eventually plug abandoned gas wells that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions across the state.

Starting this summer, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin using drones to fly high-powered magnetometers over remote areas like forests, with the goal of locating natural gas. decades old. Many wells have been abandoned over the past century and are difficult to find and plug properly.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said using drones is a faster and more efficient way to locate and plug wells than traversing difficult terrain on foot.

“We generate a map. It is effectively a modern treasure map to detect a significant source of greenhouse gases to solve this global problem that we are all involved in, namely climate change,” Seggos said.

The primary gas emitted by old wells is methane. Although methane does not account for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions, it is more harmful than carbon and other more common pollutants.

The commissioner said he hopes to demonstrate a proof of concept this year, in hopes it can be scaled up and adopted by other states with a history of gas drilling, such as Pennsylvania.


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