Biden’s climate plan aims to reduce methane emissions

Nov 1, 2021, 10:04 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2021, 9:03 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Tuesday launched a wide-ranging plan to reduce methane emissions, targeting a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming and packs a stronger short-term punch than even carbon dioxide.

The plan was announced as President Joe Biden wraps up a two-day appearance at a United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Biden pledged during the summit to work with the European Union and dozens of other nations to reduce overall methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.

The centerpiece of U.S. actions is a long-awaited rule by the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten methane regulations for the oil and gas sector, as laid out in one of Biden’s first executive orders.

The proposed rule would for the first time target reductions from existing oil and gas wells nationwide, rather than focus only on new wells as previous regulations have done.

“One of the most important things we can do in this decisive decade — to keep 1.5 degrees in reach — is reduce our methane emissions as quickly as possible,” Biden said, referring to a global pledge to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above levels in the late 19th century.

Methane is “one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is,” Biden said, adding that the new U.S. rules and the global pledge are “going to make a huge difference,” not only in fighting climate change, but to improve health and reduce asthma and other respiratory problems.

Reducing methane leaks, “capturing methane to turn it into new revenue streams,” will save companies money and create “good-paying union jobs for our workers,” Biden said.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the new rule, established under the Clean Air Act, would lead to significant reductions in methane emissions and other pollutants and would be stricter than a 2016 standard set under President Barack Obama. Congress reinstated the Obama-era standard last summer in a rare effort by majority Democrats to use the legislative branch to overturn a regulatory rollback under President Donald Trump.

The EPA’s “historic action” will “ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country,” Regan said, adding that the new rule will protect communities near oil and natural gas sites and advance U.S. climate goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Once finalized, the proposed requirements would reduce methane emissions from U.S. drilling operations and equipment by approximately 75% by 2030, compared with 2005, the White House said.

The oil and natural gas industry is the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, a highly potent pollutant that is responsible for about one-third of current warming from human activities.

The oil and gas sector also is a leading source of other harmful air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds that contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog, and air toxins such as benzene that are emitted along with methane.

Environmental groups call methane reduction the fastest and most cost-effective action to slow the rate of global warming. Current rules for methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas wells only apply to sources that were built or modified after 2015, leaving more than 90% of the nation’s nearly 900,000 well sites unregulated. Many of those sites are smaller, low-producing wells.

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, called the new rule “an important step that offers a major victory for nine million Americans living near active oil and gas sites.” But he said EPA and other agencies must do more to cut down on flaring and leaks from so-called “marginal wells” that have disproportionately high emissions.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s top lobbying group, has said it supports direct regulation of methane emissions from new and existing sources but opposes efforts in Congress to impose fees on methane leaks, calling them punitive and unnecessary. The industry says leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, have decreased even as natural gas production has gone up as a result of the ongoing fracking boom. Technological advancements in recent years have make finding and repairing natural gas leaks cheaper and easier.

“EPA has released a sweeping proposal, and we look forward to reviewing it in its entirety,” said API senior vice president Frank Macchiarola. The group will work with EPA to help shape a final rule “that is effective, feasible and designed to encourage further innovation,” he said.

The administration’s plan includes new safety regulations by the Transportation Department to tighten requirements over methane leaks from the nation’s 3 million miles of pipelines.

The Interior Department, meanwhile, is preparing to crack down on methane waste burned at drilling sites on public lands. And the Agriculture Department is working with farmers to establish so-called climate-smart standards to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage.

Biden has previously announced plans to step up efforts to plug leaks at old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned coal mines. A bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate includes billions to reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned wells.

The administration also is taking aim at methane emissions from landfills, with emphasis on food loss and waste that serves as a major contributor. EPA has set a voluntary goal of capturing 70% of methane emissions from U.S. landfills.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview that officials are studying ways to reduce methane emissions from livestock, including changes in feed and use of specialized equipment to convert manure into electricity.

“We have just a multitude of ways for agriculture to advance methane reduction to help with the president’s goal of reducing” global methane use by 30%, Vilsack told The Associated Press.

Ethan Lane, vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said his group has worked with the Biden administration “since day one to ensure the U.S. cattle industry is recognized for our strong record of environmental stewardship,” including methane reductions.

“The administration cannot accomplish lasting conservation without the buy-in of cattle producers,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer in Glasgow, Scotland contributed to this story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Virgin Galactic taps Boeing subsidiary to build motherships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic announced Wednesday that it is partnering with a Boeing subsidiary to manufacture the next generation of the twin-fuselage aircraft used to carry aloft the space tourism company’s rocket ship. Aurora Flight Sciences will build two of the special carrier planes at its facilities in Mississippi and West Virginia. Final […]
16 hours ago
Two women visit a memorial to those killed and wounded in Monday's Fourth of July mass shooting, We...
Associated Press

Police: Parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — The man charged with killing seven people at an Independence Day parade confessed to police that he unleashed a hail of bullets from a rooftop in suburban Chicago and then fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, where he contemplated shooting up an event there, authorities said Wednesday. The suspect turned […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-Texas chief deputy pleads guilty to using excessive force

TYLER, Texas (AP) — A former East Texas chief deputy pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating a prisoner’s civil rights by using excessive force on him, according to court documents. Steven Craig Shelton was the second-ranked official in the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office when the Sept. 21 incident happened at the county jail. During a […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This combination of 2022 and 2021 photos shows Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and gubernator...
Associated Press

Georgia’s Brian Kemp raises $3.8M for reelection bid

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that his main campaign committee raised $3.8 million in the two months ended June 30, but heavy spending leading up to the Republican’s blowout primary win meant that Kemp’s total amount of cash on hand continued to decline. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said the incumbent’s main […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-alderman who’s part of Daley family sentenced to 4 months

CHICAGO (AP) — A grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors was sentenced to four months in prison Wednesday after being convicted of tax crimes and making false statements. Patrick Daley Thompson, 52, was accused of falsely claiming mortgage interest deductions and lying about lines of credit from the now-closed Washington Federal Bank for […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Packaging for an electronic cigarette and menthol pods from Juul Labs is displayed on Feb. 2...
Associated Press

Juul, FDA suspend court case while e-cigarette ban on hold

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration and Juul agreed Wednesday to put their court fight on hold while the government conducts more review of the company’s electronic cigarettes. The agreement comes one day after the FDA placed a hold on its initial order banning Juul’s products from the market, saying that Juul’s application […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Biden’s climate plan aims to reduce methane emissions