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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Plan to Rein In Oil’s Methane Emissions

WASHINGTON (CN) - The White House announced plans to cut oil and gas industries' methane emissions in an attempt to tackle the grave problems of climate change.

Methane, the main component in natural gas, is a greenhouse gas that scientists believe to be a major contributor to global climate change.

The U.S. now provides the most natural gas worldwide, largely due to the recent rise in hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking."

As part of the administration's Climate Action Plan, President Barack Obama announced this week a goal to cut methane emissions from oil and gas industries by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels, in the next decade.

Almost 30 percent of the methane emitted in 2012 in the U.S. came from oil and natural gas production and distribution, and is expected to rise by more than 25 percent, the White House said in a statement.

In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior have outlined proposals for cutting methane emissions.

In March 2014, the government issued a "Strategy to Reduce Methane Admissions," and this week's announcement builds on the findings from that report.

Among the planned strategies for methane reduction, the EPA will begin the rulemaking process to set standards for methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the oil and gas industries.

The Bureau of Land Management plans this spring to update its rules to help prevent leaks, vents, and flares from oil and gas wells.

Additionally, the EPA said it will require all segments of the oil and gas industry to submit reports about its greenhouse gas emissions. That agency will also look into remote sensing technology for more efficient, accurate and cost-effective monitoring of emissions.

In related news, the White House will propose $15 million in the next fiscal year for the Department of Energy to develop cost-effective technologies for gas compressors and methods to fix leaks in pipelines. If the goal succeeds, 180 billion cubic feet of natural gas would be saved by 2025, which is enough gas to heat 2 million homes for a year, the government said.

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