The Biden administration is proposing new restrictions from a number of federal agencies with the same purpose in mind: reducing methane emissions, which contribute to global warming. The announcement is centred on an EPA regulation that would require oil and gas companies to identify, monitor, and fix methane leaks from new and existing wells, pipelines, and other infrastructure with greater accuracy. From 2023 to 2035, the EPA forecasts that it will reduce methane emissions by 41 million tonnes.
It is more than all the carbon dioxide generated by all US passenger automobiles and commercial airlines in 2019. In the near run, methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and experts have told CNN that limiting methane leaks is one of the simplest methods to halt global warming. It is the most important component of natural gas, which accounts for over 40% of the US electrical industry.
Leaks from oil and natural gas wells, natural gas pipelines, and processing equipment can all release it into the atmosphere. Methane emissions are also produced by landfills and agriculture. Following a brief pause in the early 2000s, atmospheric methane concentrations have risen fast over the last decade, with five-year average growth rates currently approaching those of the 1980s. The EPA’s plan comes as Biden addresses the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, where countries are pledging to raise their decarbonization goals.
The EPA rule proposed by Vice President Joe Biden would go further than the one proposed by former President Barack Obama, which only covered new and recently updated equipment. It would also regulate natural gas that is produced as a byproduct of oil extraction and is frequently vented or flared, as well as leaks from compressor stations and gas-fired pneumatic controllers.