US companies reduced their methane emissions by an equivalent of 7,000,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2
) between 2016 and 2019, data published by US EPA
shows. The reduction was achieved as part of EPA’s Methane Challenge Program
, launched in collaboration with oil and natural gas companies in 2016.
The voluntary program encourages industry to minimize methane pollution using proven, cost-effective technologies and practices to mitigate emissions from key sources.
Program partners are recognized on EPA’s website
and include companies from all segments of the oil and gas industry—production, gathering and boosting, processing, transmission and storage, and distribution.
Other figures highlighted in EPA’s announcement include 9,000 miles of cast iron and unprotected steel pipelines replaced and $45 million worth of natural gas kept in the pipeline.
New Methane Emissions Regulations Coming Soon
The primary component of natural gas, methane (CH4
) is twenty-five times more effective than CO2
at trapping heat in the atmosphere. EPA believes that methane is relatively short-lived compared to CO2
and that “achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential.”
On June 30, 2021, President Biden signed a Congressional resolution to officially disapprove of changes made in 2020 to the Clean Air Act New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the oil and gas industry. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) authorizes the US Congress to “overrule” actions taken by Federal agencies.
EPA released a Questions and Answers document
to address how the CRA resolution impacts environmental compliance.
The President issued Executive Order 13990
in January 2021, instructing EPA to consider a two-step effort to bolster methane emissions regulations under the Clean Air Act:
- Suspend, revise, or rescind the modifications to the NSPS for the oil and gas industry; and
- Establish new performance standards and guidelines for methane and VOC emissions from these sources.
EPA intends to propose a rule to comply with the E.O. soon.
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