Obama Moves On Methane Emissions


January 14, 2015 | The Hill | Laura Barron-Lopez

The Obama administration announced Wednesday the first-ever plan to regulate methane emitted during oil and gas production. Read through the White House fact sheet here.

White House officials said the goal is to cut methane emissions by 45 percent from 2012 levels over the next decade.  Laura Barron-Lopez, writing in The Hill, explains why reducing methane emissions is a necessary part of the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change:

“Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 25 times more harmful to the planet than carbon dioxide. In 2012, methane emissions accounted for roughly 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are said to contribute significantly to global warming.”

According to the White House fact sheet, “The U.S. is also now the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing an abundant source of clean-burning fuel to power and heat American homes and businesses … Nevertheless, emissions from the oil and gas sector are projected to rise more than 25 percent by 2025 without additional steps to lower them.”

The plan unveiled today targets new oil and gas production, processing and transmission.  The White House is also asking for voluntary actions from industry to reduce emissions.  But for now, it is just a plan. From here, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, will craft a proposal that will then be subject to a public comment period.

Today’s proposed methane regulations, in addition to the Clean Power Plan, which would cut carbon emissions from existing power plants, are both important elements of Obama’s climate change legacy.  But as Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reported recently, the Clean Power Plan faces fierce opposition from the GOP.  Methane regulations will likely face the same.