From several federal agencies, the Biden administration is proposing new rules. The purpose is to slash planet-warming methane emissions. There is also a regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency that would insist oil and gas companies accurately repair, monitor, detect leaks from existing and new pipelines, wells, and other equipment. From 2023 to 2035, the EPA estimates it would cut 41 million tons of methane emissions, more than all the carbon dioxide emitted by all US passenger cars and commercial planes in 2019. In the short term, methane is a greenhouse gas around 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. According to experts reducing methane leaks is among the easiest way to slow global warming.
The main component of natural gas is methane, which powers close to 40% of the US electricity sector. Methane enters the atmosphere through leaks from oil and natural gas wells, pipelines, and processing equipment. Landfills and agriculture are also a source of methane emissions. The EPA’s proposal comes as Biden attends the UN climate in Glasgow, where countries are gathering to raise ambitions to decarbonize their economies. With this historical action, the EPA is addressing existing sources from the oil and natural gas industry nationwide and updating rules for new sources to ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country.
Natural gas will be regulated by the Biden EPA rule that comes as a byproduct of oil production. Natural gas is often vented or flared and covers leaks from gas-fired pneumatic controllers and compressor stations. All these can be the sources of severe methane leaks. At 300,000 well sites across the country would result in new routine monitoring if the rules are implemented. The estimate is that this EPA rule will cover emissions of about 75% of all methane. Methane is a crucial issue for the US. The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Department of Interior has announced a final rule to handle the potent greenhouse gas. This rule would deal with emissions from wells on public lands. To all onshore gas gathering pipelines, the department is extending federal regulations. The companies need to monitor and report leaks and safety information.
The ways to capture methane from agriculture will be the main focus of the US Department of Agriculture. The oil and gas company is responsible for 30% of the countries methane emissions. But methane from landfills and agriculture also needs attention. It will work with farmers to identify ways to cut methane across the food chain. The current administration has been working on ways to achieve the President’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 50% by 2030. To complement the President’s climate plan in congress, the administration tries to show concrete executive action. A fee would be levied on oil and gas companies that emit methane above a specific limit. There will also be $775 million in incentives and grants to help companies stay below the threshold. The administration is emphasizing reducing methane emissions both abroad. The hope is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.