CAMBRIDGE (November 2, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed strengthening standards for methane emissions from new oil and gas operations as well as expanding coverage and requirements for existing operations. Methane is a potent global warming pollutant, more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, and is a major and growing contributor to global climate change. Robustly designed, broadly applied, and rigorously enforced standards for new and existing oil and gas operations will drive critical near-term progress in climate action, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Julie McNamara, deputy policy director in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.
“Today’s proposals represent essential progress and long-demanded action to rein in methane emissions from oil and gas operations. For too long, we’ve known the damaging impacts of this potent heat-trapping pollutant, known that oil and gas operations continue to be a major source of it, and known that solutions to drive rapid reductions across the sector already exist–yet still, oil and gas operations continue to release untenably high and entirely preventable methane emissions. This is no accident, but rather the result of a concerted industry lobbying campaign to block, delay, and roll back federal regulations.
“Swiftly reducing methane emissions will result in significant and much-needed near-term climate progress. Today’s actions by EPA Administrator Regan take important strides in achieving that necessary progress. The proposed rules would strengthen standards for new oil and gas operations as well as broaden coverage and requirements for existing operations. For these standards to be as effective and protective as possible, EPA must press even further as it finalizes the rules, and work to ensure that they are broadly applied and rigorously enforced so that the implementation matches the intent.
“Driving down methane emissions is a critical component of achieving President Biden’s science-informed national climate targets, and EPA standards are foundational to that effort. These domestic actions will also support global climate efforts, including the recently announced Global Methane Pledge, a collective goal of slashing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.
“Beyond climate, reducing methane from oil and gas operations will also result in significant and vital public health gains for communities—disproportionately communities of color—living near these operations, who have been forced to bear the ongoing burden of hazardous air pollutants regularly released alongside methane. There can be no more excuses: EPA must resist oil and gas industry efforts to delay and water down new standards, and act rapidly to strengthen, finalize, and enforce robust rules.”