Biden unveils new regulations to reduce US methane emissions

Accounting for 10% greenhouse emissions in US, one ton of methane has 80 times warming impact of CO2.

Biden unveils new regulations to reduce US methane emissions

The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled new regulations on US methane emissions as part of a multilateral target of cutting global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

"The oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States, responsible for approximately 30% of total methane emissions," the White House said in a statement.

When he took office this January, President Joe Biden ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue regulations under the Clean Air Act to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions, and the EPA on Monday proposed new regulations that broaden methane emissions reduction for new oil and gas facilities.

US states are now required to develop plans that will reduce methane emissions from existing sources nationwide, including an estimated 300,000 oil and gas well sites.

"Overall, the proposed requirements would reduce by approximately 75% emissions from the sources, equipment, and operations that the proposal covers,” according to the US Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan report. “Those reductions would total 41 million cumulative tons of methane between 2023 and 2035, the equivalent of 920 million metric tons of CO2."

Focusing on the venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas operations and wells, the Interior Department is planning closures on public lands and waters and the plugging of empty wells still releasing methane, the report said.

The Transportation Department is aiming to reduce or eliminate leaks or ruptures of oil and gas pipelines at underground natural gas storage facilities and from liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations, it added.

Methane accounts for around 10% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the US, while one ton of methane in the atmosphere has about 80 times the warming impact of a ton of CO2, according to the report.

The Global Methane Pledge announced in September by the EU and the US aims to reduce global methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

"The official launch event the second day of COP-26 will announce that more than 90 governments have now joined the pledge, including 15 of the world’s top 30 methane emitters: the United States, EU, Indonesia, Pakistan, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, Iraq, Vietnam, Canada," the White House said.