The Obama Administration via the EPA today announced a new goal to cut greenhouse gases, specifically methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% – 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. This ambitious goal is bound to be attacked by the oil industry and anti-environmental pressure groups as it already has been.
EPA will initiate a rulemaking effort to set standards for methane and VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions from new and modified oil and gas production sources, and natural gas processing and transmission sources. EPA will issue a proposed rule in the summer of 2015, and a final rule will follow in 2016.
“U.S. oil production is at the highest level in nearly 30 years, providing important energy security and economic benefits, said a White House release. “ The U.S. is also now the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing an abundant source of clean-burning fuel to power and heat American homes and businesses. Continuing to rely on these domestic energy resources is a critical element of the President’s energy strategy. At the same time, methane – the primary component of natural gas – is a potent greenhouse gas, with 25 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.”
Methane emissions accounted for nearly 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, with nearly 30% coming from the production, transmission, and distribution of oil and natural gas. Emissions from the oil and gas sector are down 16% since 1990. However, emissions from the oil and gas sector are projected to rise more than 25% by 2025 without additional steps to lower them.
“For these reasons, a strategy for cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is an important component of efforts to address climate change,” the White House said