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WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new draft rules Tuesday that, if adopted, would drastically reduce methane emissions. The regulations, one covering existing wells and the other covering new wells, are part of a comprehensive new Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.
Methane, which is commonly released during the extraction of fossil fuels, is a highly dangerous greenhouse gas that warms the planet with 28 times the strength of carbon dioxide.The EPA estimates that the new rules will decrease methane emissions by 41 million tons through 2035. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 200 million cars off the road for a year.
The rules come as President Joe Biden seeks to reestablish U.S. leadership on global warming at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow and just weeks after his administration signed the U.S. onto a global pledge to reduce methane emissions 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.
EPA officials are accepting public comments on the draft rules through Jan. 1.
U.S. PIRG’s Environment Campaign Director Matt Casale released the following statement:
“We applaud the EPA for taking this first step toward ensuring oil and gas companies will no longer be allowed to freely leak methane into our atmosphere. From the giant methane cloud we saw over Florida to the ongoing release of this dangerous gas from the massive Permian Basin of Texas, it’s clear that we must get this problem under control. Holding oil and gas companies accountable and reducing methane emissions would be a significant climate victory for all Americans. We look forward to working with the EPA to develop a final rule that is as strong as possible.”
Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office Executive Director Lisa Frank said:
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation. To tackle such a pressing problem, our federal leaders need to take a whole-of-government approach. Passing the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is critical and will accelerate important climate investments that will pay off through emissions reductions in the years to come. But there will remain more to do, and we’re glad to see that the administration is wasting no time. Placing stricter rules on methane pollution would have a significant and rapid effect when it comes to addressing global warming. It would also help protect communities across the U.S. by lessening unhealthy air pollution. With the unveiling of these new rules, if Congress passes the reconciliation and infrastructure bills this week, it would be a historic moment for climate action.”
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