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Content from Environmental Defense Fund
Four things to know about oil and gas methane
1. Methane is a supercharged climate pollutant
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas packing a climate punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. More than a third of the climate impact we feel today is caused by short-lived pollutants, including methane, which accounts for most of that amount. These emissions are worsening already extreme weather patterns responsible for more frequent, higher intensity storms. And, in the absence of action, these trends are expected to accelerate.
2. The oil and gas industry is responsible for over 7 million tons of methane pollution
The U.S. oil and gas sector is estimated to release more than 7 million metric tons of methane emissions into the atmosphere each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. Curbing emissions at both new and existing facilities is critical
In January, the administration set a goal of reducing 40 to 45 percent of oil and gas methane emissions by 2025. To help meet that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced plans to set standards for methane emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and gas supply chain. And, the Bureau of Land Management is due to propose a rule that would limit methane for existing operations on public lands. But we can’t reach the national methane reduction goal without comprehensively regulating the numerous sources currently emitting methane. EPA estimates these existing sources will be the ones responsible for 90 percent of our nation’s methane emissions over the next few years.
4. Low-cost, American-made solutions are available
A 2014 analysis by a leading energy consulting firm identified a number of technologies made by U.S. businesses that are helping oil and gas companies find and fix methane leaks. These technologies are currently on the market and enable operators to slash over 40 percent of their emissions across the supply chain by spending, on average, less than a penny per unit of gas.
The outsized opportunity to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases quickly, while preventing needless energy waste, makes reducing oil and gas methane emissions the best bargain in the energy business for tackling climate change. Common-sense regulations that make best practices the standard practice can help the U.S. reach its methane reduction goal.