Defending standards to cut methane waste
Common sense standards help protect taxpayers and our health
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.
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:
- We can cost-effectively cut methane pollution
- Reducing methane could grow an already emerging methane mitigation industry
- Global oil and gas methane pollution wastes $30 billion annually
- Finding, fixing leaks is a cost-effective way to cut oil and gas methane emissions [PDF]
- EPA’s Air Rules for New and Modified Oil and Gas Operations: Saving Money, Saving Lives, Protecting the Climate [PDF]