“As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition,” Regan said, referring to the climate summit.
EPA’s “historic action” will “ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country,” Regan said. The new rule will protect communities near oil and natural gas sites and advance U.S. climate goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement, he said.
“As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition."
- EPA Administrator Michael Regan
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 9 million Americans living near active oil and gas sites.” But he said the 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.