White House announces new methane emission controls

Jan 18, 2015 12:00 AM

The White House announced Wednesday a series of measures aimed at reducing emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, as part of efforts to fight climate change.

The goal is to reduce methane emissions linked to oil and natural gas production and distribution. The White House said it wants to get the levels to 40 to 45 percent below the 2012 level over the next decade.

“Methane emissions accounted for nearly 10 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, of which nearly 30 percent came from the production transmission and distribution of oil and natural gas,” the White House said in a statement.

The new measures will, in part, build on actions several states are already taking to regulate new and modified gas and oil installations. The Environmental Protection Agency will offer its proposed regulations this summer, with the final rules to take effect in 2016.

The administration will also work this year on devising stricter standards for pipeline safety, which, the statement said, should also help reduce methane emissions.

Oil production in the United States is at its highest levels in 30 years, and the country has become the world leader in natural gas production, the White House said, emphasizing the importance of limiting methane emissions, which can trap as much as 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a century.

The White House said methane emissions are down compared to the levels seen in 1990, but are on a path to rise by 25 percent by 2025 if changes aren't made.

Climate change is a politically sensitive issue in the United States: Republicans, who control Congress, are opposed to new laws, with some lawmakers arguing climate change isn't real, while others saying human activity isn't the driving factor.

Obama, who has said fighting climate change is one of his top priorities, has therefore focused on imposing regulations, mainly through the powerful Environmental Protection Agency, rather than fighting for bills to pass Congress.


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