by Ryan Koronowski Aug 18, 2015 1:24pm
CREDIT: Shutterstock. Oil well in North Dakota.
Regulating carbon dioxide, by far the most common greenhouse gas, is critical to halt the emissions that cause climate change. But methane is a very close second, and for the first time, the federal government is moving to significantly rein in methane pollution.
The Obama administration released a proposed rule Tuesday to regulate methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas wells across the country. How much? It’s complicated.
In January, the administration announced the goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. This proposal would help get the United States to that goal, but would not do it on its own.
Tuesday’s proposed action focuses on new hydraulically fracked oil and gas wells. It would “require methane and VOC [volatile
organic compound] reductions from hydraulically fractured oil wells, some of which can contain a large amount of gas along with oil, and would complement the agency’s 2012 standards addressing emissions from this industry,” according to an EPA factsheet. Specifically, it updates the 2012 New Source Performance Standards to set these methane and VOC guidelines for new and modified wells.