The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today finalized clean air standards limiting emissions of methane from new and heavily modified sources in the oil and gas industry. According to the agency’s national emissions inventory, oil and gas companies currently release at least 9.8 million metric tons of methane into the air each year (34 percent more than previous estimates).
Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas, with 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Today’s announcement is the latest in an ongoing series of important steps by the Obama administration aimed at reducing oil and gas methane emissions by 40-45 percent by 2025.
The new EPA standards build from policies and practices in the states and private sector including clean air solutions being deployed in Colorado, Wyoming and Ohio. Importantly, the new emission standards provide for national solutions to address emissions leaking from newly constructed or rebuilt oil and gas industrial activity. However, the standards do not provide for limits on the leaks and emissions from existing oil and gas infrastructure, the single largest source of methane in our air.
Statement by EDF President Fred Krupp:
“The U.S. oil and gas industry pumps out almost 10 million metric tons of methane pollution a year from thousands of sites in communities all across the nation. It’s a tremendous threat to our climate, and a needless waste of valuable resources. Cutting this pollution is the fastest, cheapest path to slow the warming we will otherwise see in the next 20 years.
“A vast body of science has revealed the scale of the problem, and proven we can keep that escaping gas in the pipes at minimal cost. Some companies are already setting a great example of what can be achieved using common sense solutions to find and fix leaks.
We need common sense standards to make ‘best practice’ the standard practice. And we need to build on today’s announcement by extending these same level-headed standards to thousands of existing facilities that are still exempt despite generating millions of tons of methane pollution a year.”
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.