State Releases Strong Methane Rules for California's Oil and Gas Producers

Proposed nationally leading standards raise the bar on requirements for methane leak inspections

February 3, 2016
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437,

California’s Air Resources Board showed strong leadership this week in taking regulatory action to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from the state’s oil and gas industry. The newly proposed rules would, among other actions, prohibit venting (intentional emitting), require quarterly leak inspections of new and existing facilities, and include measures to prevent worsening local air quality caused by oil and gas activity.

“In light of the Aliso Canyon disaster, the case for strong national rules to limit methane pollution from both current and future oil and gas sites has never been clearer,” said Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President. “California, along with a handful of other leading states, is showing there is a sensible way to reduce these emissions now. Across the nation, the oil and gas industry emits 8 million tons a year, the same climate impact as the annual emissions from 160 coal plants during the next two decades.”

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is released into the atmosphere when uncombusted natural gas is leaked or vented. It is a potent climate pollutant responsible for about a quarter of today’s global warming, and can be associated with public health problems, such as the headaches, nausea and other symptoms that have been reported by residents of the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood.

“Keeping gas in the pipes where it belongs protects public and environmental health,” said Tim O’Connor, Director of California Oil and Gas for EDF. “Many of the state’s oil and gas facilities are old and decrepit. In light of the science on methane and equipment leaks, and the events at Aliso Canyon, this long-awaited proposal for increased oversight and maintenance requirements couldn’t have come sooner.”

Final consideration of the proposed rule is expected later in 2016.

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