EPA released first US regulation to cut methane emissions

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this Thursday (May 12) set out regulation to reduce methane emissions.

This decision is part of the Obama’s administration commitment to address climate change and protect public health, cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

Methane is a greenhouse gas which has a high warming potential, estimated to be 25 times greater than CO2. In the latest months methane received global attention, mainly due to the California methane leak first, and for the Canada-US joint commitment to address methane emissions reduction.

The Obama’s administration has started working on the issue since many years, in a comprehensive effort to tackle climate change.

To achieve the target, EPA is going to impose a new set of standards to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air emissions in the oil and natural gas industry.

The final standards would reduce the equivalent of 11 million tonnes of CO2, costing to companies $ 530 million in 2025, but providing $ 690 million in climate benefits.

The rule establishes assurance measures to avoid methane leak, and it should reduce 210.000 short tons of ozone-forming VOCs in 2025 and 3.900 tons of air toxics (such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene).

Moreover, EPA launched the “Information Collection Request”, requiring companies to give details on existing facilities until early 2017, which is the first step toward regulating existing sources, accounting for the 90% of US methane emissions.

(Image: Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado, USA, April 2014. Photo credit: Bryce Bradford/Flickr)