EPA targets methane, a potent climate pollutant

Tougher standards are needed to slow the pace of global warming

Flaring of natural gas near a community in Colorado. Stronger federal rules can lower the risks from natural gas development.

Photo: WildEarth Guardians

When it comes to climate change, we have to worry about more than just carbon dioxide emissions.

Another greenhouse gas—methane—is just as important. In the short term, it is 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

New rules are in progress

Fortunately, the EPA is setting national standards that, for the first time, directly regulate methane emissions from the top source of methane in the U.S.: The oil and gas industry. Now, new facilities must meet methane pollution standards.

Limiting methane pollution is essential to turning the corner on climate change, because cutting methane emissions will slow the pace of warming.

But these rules don’t go far enough, because most of the industry’s methane pollution comes from existing facilities — the near-term climate impact is the same as more than 200 coal plants, and it’s not covered by the new rule.

You can help keep momentum

Climate and clean air actions are being attacked in the states, the court and Congress, and the EPA is hearing from industry representatives who oppose any limits on methane emissions.

That’s where you come in: Thank Administrator Gina McCarthy for the progress so far, and remind her how much further there is to go. The more people they hear from, the more pressure they are under to limit methane pollution across the oil and gas industry.

Other ways to reduce methane

Strong leadership at the state level is another path to limiting methane pollution. Our work in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California is paying off as they show what’s possible.

In addition, the Bureau of Land Management proposed new rules in early 2016 that will reduce natural gas waste and methane emissions on federal and tribal lands.

Stronger rules are not the only way to limit methane pollution. We’re also pioneering better ways to find leaks and encouraging cost-effective ways to contain them.

Policy resources

Our experts provide analysis and commentary:

More about the rules and the problem of methane leakage »

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