Biden administration finalizes rule to cut US oil and gas emissions of methane

The Biden administration has implemented a rule to significantly reduce methane emissions from the US oil and gas industry, aiming to address climate pollution.


The importance of cutting methane emissions

The Biden administration has finalized a rule to cut methane emissions from the US oil and gas industry. Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is a significant contributor to climate pollution. The rule aims to address this issue and reduce methane emissions by nearly 80% through 2038.

Methane, which is the main component of natural gas, has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during its first two decades in the atmosphere. The oil and gas industry is one of the leading sources of global methane emissions.

By implementing this rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 58 million tons of methane will be prevented from escaping into the atmosphere over the next two decades. This is equivalent to taking more than 300 million gas-powered cars off the road for a year.

Cracking down on methane leaks

The new rule will crack down on methane leaks from the oil and gas industry through various measures. One significant development is the end of routine flaring of natural gas, a byproduct of drilling oil wells. Instead of burning the gas, it will now be required to be captured.

The rule also includes stringent leak monitoring of oil and gas wells and compressors, as well as reducing leaks from equipment like pumps, storage tanks, and controllers. In addition, independent, third-party monitoring using satellites and remote-sensing technology will be used to detect large methane leaks.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi unveiled the rule at the COP28 climate summit. This signifies strong action from the Biden administration in reducing methane emissions.

Oil and gas companies commit to cutting methane emissions

Fifty major oil and gas companies, including Exxon and Saudi Aramco, have pledged to reduce their methane emissions by the end of the decade. The companies have committed to lowering their methane intensity by around 80-90% by 2030.

Studies have shown that oil and gas operations worldwide have a methane intensity of around 2-3%, and the companies aim to reduce this to 0.2% by 2030. The agreement also requires third-party verification on leak reduction efforts.

While some critics argue that the commitments fall short of what is needed, the pledge is a significant step in reducing methane emissions, which are critical in addressing the climate crisis.