The White House is pressing forward with even more regulations that are aimed to fight climate change.
Last weekend, the Biden administration put forth new regulations that would put a huge dent in the usage of methane, which is a greenhouse gas, that’s used in the oil and gas industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency put forth the rule, which sets the stage for reductions in emissions for not only new wells for oil and gas but also for existing wells – marking the first time that the latter will happen.
A press release issued by the EPA states the new rule would be estimated to prevent 58 million tons of methane from going into the atmosphere between the years of 2024 through 2038. The EPA says that’s the equivalent of taking about 28 million gas-powered vehicles off roads for one year.
Methane is estimated to be 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and scientists say it’s responsible for roughly 25% of all global warming.
Methane emissions mostly come from producing and transporting fossil fuels, though it also comes from agriculture, livestock and landfills that have decaying waste. Natural gas primarily consists of methane.
The EPA announcement came as world leaders came together this week at the COP28 conference in Dubai. President Joe Biden didn’t attend the conference himself, but he sent other top officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris and John Kerry, the U.S. Special Climate Envoy.
The cuts to the methane emissions will be done through policies that look to limit the amount of leaks at the wells. This includes requiring repairs to be made and constant monitoring to be done.
There would also be additional requirements placed on any new well. These would be meant to phase in eliminating the practice of burning excess gas off that gets extracted with the oil from the wells. The process is called flaring, and happens when the oil and gas companies decide that burning off this gas that comes with the oil they’re producing makes more sense than trying to capture and use it.
While there have been proposals in the past specifically targeting flaring, this new one goes much further. Democrats have been pressuring the Biden administration to pass more stringent rules as they pertain to flaring.
The rules the EPA announced last weekend also include a new program that requires any company in the oil and gas industry to look into all large methane gas releases once certified third-party entities identify them.
The EPA says its new rules aren’t just targeted at methane, but will also help reduce pollution. According to the agency, 590,000 tons of air pollutants that are toxic will be prevented from being emitted between 2024 and 2038 as a result of their rules.
During his time in the White House, former President Donald Trump rolled back some of the regulations that were placed on methane. President Joe Biden undid those actions, though, with Congress’ help.
The Congressional Review Act, passed during the Biden administration, allows rules that have been recently passed to be reversed.