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Continuing to Drive Methane Emission Reductions

Today the EPA announced proposed standards to directly reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector to help address climate change.

The Obama Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change and creating a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. To ensure we are reducing the most potent types of greenhouse gas emissions — including methane which is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide — earlier this year, the Administration set an ambitious but achievable goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40–45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

In order to help achieve that goal, today the EPA announced proposed standards to directly reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. 

The U.S. is the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing abundant fuel for efficient power generation and to heat American homes and businesses. These standards are smart, common-sense measures to ensure that as the oil and gas industry continues to grow, we do our part to reduce potent methane pollution that contributes to climate change and to protect public health and the environment.

In particular, today’s action would reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production to transmission segments through:

  • Expanding EPA’s 2012 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for volatile organic compounds (VOC) or smog forming emissions for the oil and natural gas industry to cover methane emissions directly upstream;
  • Requiring leak detection and repair at well sites, gathering and boosting stations, and compressor stations across the transmission and storage segments;
  • Proposing new standards to reduce methane and VOC emissions from hydraulically fractured oil wells and from new and modified pneumatic pumps; and
  • Issuing proposed emission guidelines to reduce VOC emissions from existing oil and gas sources in areas where smog is already reaching unhealthy levels.

These standards represent an important step to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and would reduce up to 400,000 short tons of methane in 2025, the equivalent cutting up to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Today’s proposal, taken together with rules already underway at EPA, would help make important progress toward the Administration's goal of achieving a 40-45% reduction in methane emissions while additional common sense solutions will be necessary to achieve that goal.

Today’s announcement builds on a larger commitment to reduce methane emission across a multitude of sectors through the implementation of the Administration’s Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions. In just this year, we have made tremendous progress towards cutting methane emissions from landfills and in the agricultural sector.

Last week, EPA issued two proposals to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. One of the proposals would strengthen a previously proposed rule for new landfills that was issued in 2014, and the other would update the agency’s 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills. In fact, new, modified, and existing landfills would begin capturing and controlling landfill gas at emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements.

Additionally, earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry, a voluntary strategy to cut carbon pollution and enhance sequestration that rewards and builds on the good work of farmers, ranchers, and foresters. The strategy uses existing USDA programs to provide financial and technical assistance to support producers as they further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2025, through voluntary investments to generate clean renewable energy, cut energy waste, reduce emissions of methane and N2O, and increase carbon sequestration.

For more information about today’s actions please visit