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Reducing Methane Pollution

Oil and gas fields in California's Central Valley.

Oil and gas fields in California's Central Valley.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Methane is a fast-acting greenhouse gas that traps more 84 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide in the short term.

About 25% of the warming we are experiencing today is attributable to methane emissions. Taking steps to address methane, in addition to carbon pollution, is critical to combating climate change.

Overview

The oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane pollution. The industry dumps or loses almost 8 million tons of methane into the air each year—equal to the amount of natural gas needed to heat 6.5 million U.S. homes—through unrepaired leaks and intentional releases, despite the availability of proven, low-cost solutions that could eliminate up to half of this pollution.

Methane is the primary constituent of natural gas and the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide. Smog-forming, toxic chemicals that leak from oil and gas sites along with methane also harm air quality, endangering the health of people in neighboring communities.

In August 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced a key element of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing first-ever protections to curb methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. The proposed Methane Pollution Standard offers sensible, cost-effective solutions to limit methane and toxic air pollution from rapidly escalating oil and gas development that is driving climate change and jeopardizing people’s health.

Case Updates

July 10, 2017 | Legal Document

Complaint For Declaratory And Injunctive Relief: BLM Methane &Waste Prevention Rule

This case challenges the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s decision to stay compliance deadlines for certain provisions of its Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule, 81 Fed. Reg. 83,008 (Nov. 18, 2016), which has been in effect since January 17, 2017. See 82 Fed. Reg. 27,430 (June 15, 2017). BLM’s June 15, 2017 stay violates the Administrative Procedure Act. 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, 705, 706(2)(A). The stay harms Plaintiffs and other members of the public by reducing royalty payments and allowing waste of public natural gas resources and excessive air pollution that would otherwise be controlled under the Rule.