Biden Administration Unveils Final Methane Emission Rules to Combat Climate Change

The oil and gas industry emphasizes the need for a balance between emissions reduction and meeting rising energy demand.

The Biden administration has unveiled a set of final regulations designed to address methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry, as part of a global effort to combat climate change.

These rules, developed over a two-year period, were announced during the United Nations COP28 climate change conference in Dubai.

At the summit, the United States and other participating nations are expected to outline their plans to fulfill a commitment made by 150 countries two years ago, which aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, often escapes into the atmosphere unnoticed from drilling sites, gas pipelines, and other equipment in the oil and gas sector.

It possesses greater warming potential than carbon dioxide and breaks down more quickly in the atmosphere.

Therefore, curbing methane emissions can have an immediate and substantial impact on mitigating climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Michael Regan, highlighted that these new standards not only help the country meet its international climate commitments but also improve air quality for communities nationwide.

Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the significance of these methane regulations as part of broader U.S. efforts to combat global warming, reiterating that the Biden administration has positioned the United States as a global leader in the fight against climate change.

The EPA’s new policies will prohibit the routine flaring of natural gas from newly drilled oil wells, mandate oil companies to monitor and address leaks from well sites and compressor stations, and establish a program to utilize third-party remote sensing to identify significant methane emissions from “super emitters.”

These regulations are projected to prevent approximately 58 million tons of methane from entering the atmosphere between 2024 and 2038, which is nearly equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the power sector in 2021.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham commended these methane rules, which are inspired by her state’s successful regulations, for setting an example for other countries to follow.

Environmental groups also welcomed the regulations, highlighting their importance in curbing climate pollution and safeguarding the health and safety of communities near fossil fuel extraction sites.

The EPA estimates that these rules will result in climate and health benefits of up to $7.6 billion annually through 2038 and lead to the recovery of up to $13 billion worth of natural gas during the same period.

While the final rule differs from earlier draft proposals, it provides the industry with additional time to comply and adjusts the Super Emitter Program to ensure third-party methane leak information is verified by the EPA.

Industry reactions to the rule have been mixed, with some expressing support for it, contingent on it being reasonable and sound, while others are reviewing the details.

The oil and gas industry emphasizes the need for a balance between emissions reduction and meeting rising energy demand.