Defending standards to cut methane waste

Common sense standards help protect taxpayers and our health

Pollution everywhere

Infrared cameras capture alarming footage of methane escaping from oil and gas facilities nationwide.

Methane is being emitted every day across the country’s oil and gas supply chain, from wellheads to the local utility lines under city streets, at a rate of almost 10 million metric tons every year.

The U.S. loses about $2 billion worth of natural gas every year through these leaks and intentional releases of methane, enough gas to heat over 7 million American homes. This includes an estimated $330 million worth of natural gas from taxpayer and tribal lands is lost through leaks and the inefficient practice of venting and flaring every year.

Experience at the state level and multiple studies have demonstrated that reducing this natural gas waste is simple and highly cost-effective. And efforts to cut these emissions also reduce toxic and smog-forming pollutants like benzene. 

Upholding important protections

Under rules finalized in May 2016 from the Environmental Protection Agency, new and modified oil and gas operations must take reasonable steps to find and repair leaks, and to deploy commonsense technologies and practices to limit waste and pollution.

The Bureau of Land Management also finalized standards in November 2016 requiring operators that drill on taxpayer and tribal-owned lands to curb natural gas waste and pollution.

Attempts to roll back common sense methane standards would lead to more wasted American energy and more pollution. We need Congress to uphold these strong protections; our communities are counting on them.

Highly cost-effective opportunity

Studies show methane leaks can be reduced at least 40 percent at an average cost of about one penny per thousand cubic feet of gas produced.

Efforts to cut methane waste has also put American entrepreneurs to work creating innovative, cutting-edge technologies to make it economically feasible for the oil and gas companies achieve reductions.

Major oil-and gas-producing states like Colorado, and California are providing the blueprint to reduce systematic methane leaks and emissions across the industry.

A problem too big to ignore

Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are significantly higher than previous official estimates, according to April 2016 revisions of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions inventory by the EPA.

At 9.8 million metric tons, methane emissions are 34% percent higher than previously reported. Over a 20-year timeframe these emissions have the same climate impact as over 200 coal-fired power plants, and this is enough natural gas to heat over 7 million homes.

Science also shows us that the scope of the oil and gas methane problem is often underestimated:

  • An EDF-led study reported 90% higher emissions from oil and gas activity in one of the nation’s largest producing regions.
  • A Stanford- University-led study reported methane emissions from the U.S. natural gas supply chain were almost 2 times greater than current official EPA estimates.