Reports from the Field

By Karley O'Connor 3 weeks agoNo Comments

Hear from experts in the conservation field about the natural wonders of the Western Slope.

During this series, we will learn fascinating facts about the initiatives and histories of the Western Slope from experts in the field.

Join us for our first Report at Paonia Library

January 23, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Christopher Caskey presents: Capturing Coal Mine Methane

The North Fork Valley is home to the highest emissions of methane in Colorado. Depending on how you count, methane is a climate pollutant 28 to 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. At our first Report from the Field, listen to Christopher Caskey, owner of Delta Brick & Climate Company, talk about the issue of coal mine methane in the North Fork Valley and the creative solutions local experts are deploying to solve the problem.

The Challenge of Coal Mine Methane: 

The economy of Colorado’s North Fork of the Gunnison River valley has been based on coal mining and agriculture for over 100 years. As natural gas and renewables have decreased in price, local coal mines have laid off workers and closed, forcing the region to rely more heavily on its agriculture. As is the case with many coal deposits, North Fork coal is saturated with methane and other gases. To prevent underground fires, that gas is vented during mining, and the venting continues long after mine closure. This represents a wasted resource and a source of pollution: the climate impact of vented methane is 84 times that of carbon dioxide, and other vented gases have acute toxicity.

The North Fork’s agricultural sector has a challenge as well.

Much of the local water delivery system is controlled by Paonia Dam and Reservoir, where storage allows irrigation into the summer months. This storage been severely diminished by sediment build-up in the reservoir, and sediment flushing can harm the downstream ecosystem.

These problems are seen as an opportunity for Delta Brick & Climate Company.

Paonia Reservoir sediment is high-quality clay and can be converted with heat from burning the methane into useful ceramics such as brick and tile. This converts the methane and toxic gases into non-toxic carbon dioxide and water, and provides building materials to sell to Colorado’s growing population. This is also an opportunity to grow community between climate scientists, coal miners, farmers, conservationists, and builders

Stay tuned for future talks with local Public Lands experts. 

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