A coalition of 21 states and one city’s attorneys general are supporting a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would regulate methane emissions in the oil and gas exploration industry.
The attorneys general, led by California and New York, have commented supporting the federal organization’s proposal, which would create stronger regulations for methane emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed facilities in the industry. The proposal would also, for the first time, regulate emissions from existing infrastructure, which accounts for the majority of emissions.
According to a release from the EPA, the proposal is estimated to reduce methane emissions by 36 million tons, volatile organic compounds by 9.7 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 390,000 tons over the next 12 years. The coalition of law enforcement officers has backed the proposal, designed to update, strengthen, and expand the standards proposed in November 2021. In addition, the coalition has identified ways to strengthen the initiative further.
According to the release, the proposal would require shorter repair periods for methane leaks if a well site is situated near an already overburdened community. It would also add time restrictions for operators having idle wells and limit the total number of idle wells one owner can hold. The proposal would prohibit routine flaring except for safety and emergencies. It would also lower the threshold for defining super-emitter emission events and design a super-emitter response program to maximize community participation.
California and New York are joined in the coalition by attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the city of Chicago.
According to the release, methane is 83 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane has been deemed a super pollutant, and it traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. According to the release, the single largest source of methane emissions is the production, processing, transmission, and storage of oil and gas. In addition, states have urged the EPA to regulate methane emissions over the last decade to combat climate change.
The coalition’s support for the EPA’s proposal comes when climate change has become a pressing issue. Many states and organizations are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources. Reducing methane emissions is an essential step in this process. The proposal would help to create a cleaner and healthier environment for all, and it would also help to mitigate the effects of climate change.