President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada made an historic announcement yesterday regarding methane regulation. The two countries have agreed to reduce methane pollution from their oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent over the next 10 years.
For the United States, an important outcome is that the US EPA will begin developing regulations for methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources, with the EPA stating that it will begin the formal process for developing regulations regarding these emissions within the next month. These sources are responsible for 90 percent of methane emissions from these industries.
This is great news for Americans and the environment. Methane waste is an enormous contributor to climate change—it is over 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time period. Reducing methane emissions will also reduce volatile organic compounds from oil and gas operations, including carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. Lower income communities nationwide often bear the brunt of these toxins.
Last year, Green America supported the EPA’s regulations to reduce methane emissions from new oil and gas sources, and with our allies, urged the EPA to also regulate existing sources of methane. We are pleased that the EPA will be moving forward with the regulation of existing sources of methane emissions, as these sources represent the majority of such emissions in the US.