The United States is now the largest oil and natural gas producer in the world, and developing these cleaner-burning fuel sources to light and heat American homes and businesses is crucial to the President’s energy strategy. But while these important energy sources produce less carbon pollution overall, methane leaks throughout the oil and gas system are fueling climate change — and wasting valuable fuel that should be captured and used.
Methane — the primary component of natural gas and the third-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — is a potent climate pollutant, trapping 25 times as much heat as carbon pollution over the course of a century. The good news is emissions from the oil and gas sector are down 16 percent since 1990. However, without additional action, emissions from this sector are projected to rise more than 25 percent by 2025.
That’s why, today, the Obama administration is announcing an ambitious new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Achieving this goal would save up to 180 billion cubic feet of wasted natural gas in 2025 — enough to heat more than 2 million homes for an entire year.
To achieve this goal, we’re announcing a range of actions to tackle methane emissions throughout the oil and gas system. The Environmental Protection Agency will work with industry, states, tribes, and other stakeholders to propose common-sense standards this summer to reduce methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas wells. The Department of Energy will continue to drive technological advancement through new energy efficiency standards for natural gas and air compressors and a proposed $25 million in funding to develop and demonstrate technologies to identify and reduce natural gas leaks. The Department of the Interior will ensure that the federal government is leading by example by updating outdated standards to reduce wasteful venting and flaring of natural gas from wells on public lands.
Oil and gas companies can also choose to become power players in reducing harmful, wasteful methane emissions from existing sources. Voluntary efforts to reduce emissions by the oil and gas industry could realize significant reductions in a quick, flexible, cost-effective way. The Obama administration stands ready to work with companies, individually and through broader initiatives such as the One Future Initiative and the Downstream Initiative, to develop and verify robust commitments to reduce methane emissions throughout the oil and gas system.
Farmers across the country have already realized the economic and energy benefits of voluntarily programs to reduce methane emissions. Just last summer, the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Energy released a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap highlighting voluntary actions taken in partnership with the dairy industry — using biodigesters to capture and use methane emissions from agricultural waste.
Today’s actions on methane emissions are an important step to take on climate change, putting us on track to achieve President Obama’s goal of cutting net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in every sector of the economy — and for every decade of delay in reducing greenhouse gas pollution, the costs of climate change are projected to increase by 40 percent. Taking on this global challenge will take an all-hands-on-deck effort from government, industry, and communities across the country — and we’re committed to continuing America’s historic progress and leadership in tackling climate change.
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