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EPA Takes Action to Reduce Methane Emissions

EPA Takes Action to Reduce Methane Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new Clean Air Act rule that would reduce methane emissions in the oil and natural gas industry, and for the first time implement reductions to existing sources. EPA is taking sweeping action to curb emissions and is seeking comments on additional methane sources where it can further limit emissions. The rule would reduce 41 million tons of methane emissions between 2023 and 2035, which equates to 920 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
EPA’s announcement comes as global leaders meet during the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). EPA Administrator Michael Regan says that “with this historic action, EPA is addressing existing sources from the oil and natural gas industry nationwide, in addition to updating rules for new sources, to ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country. By building on existing technologies and encouraging innovative new solutions, we are committed to a durable final rule that is anchored in science and the law, that protects communities living near oil and natural gas facilities, and that advances our nation’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement.”
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas that causes one third of global warming attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting methane emissions is critical to achieving goals set by global leaders to achieve net-zero emissions by mid century and reduce global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Bident administration aimed this specific rule at the oil and gas industry as U.S. oil and gas is one of the largest sources of methane emissions worldwide.
EPA has considered the consequences of the rule on the domestic oil and gas industry and has found that global benefits far outweigh potential economic harm to the industry. Furthermore, the Biden administration believes that new, cost-effective technologies make reducing methane emissions more palatable than in the past. “EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis estimates the value of cumulative net climate benefits from the proposed rule, after taking into account the costs of compliance as well as savings from recovered natural gas, is $48 to $49 billion from 2023 to 2035 − the equivalent of about $4.5 billion a year.”
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