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Obama Administration Finalizes Safeguards Against Oil & Gas Industry Climate Pollution

Capping dangerous methane pollution ‘an important first step’
methane fly-in D.C.

In November 2015, 35 people from 12 different states came to Washington, D.C. with one message: clean up the oil and gas industry’s air pollution.

Jessica Ennis/Earthjustice
May 12, 2016
Washington, D.C. —

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first nationwide safeguards limiting dangerous methane pollution from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas operations are the largest industrial source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term. These standards are projected to reduce the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon pollution by 2025 and save Americans a net of $170 million in costs related to methane pollution. By issuing a standard for new and modified sources, EPA sets the stage to begin work on a rule to curb emissions from existing oil and gas operations. 

What You Need To Know About Methane

New camera technologies now enable operators to easily see leaks of invisible natural gas.
Video courtesy of FLIR Optical Gas Imaging

The nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice brought a lawsuit with Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Clean Air Council that helped prompt this rulemaking under the Clean Air Act. The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:

“Today's action by the Obama administration to rein in methane pollution from new oil and gas development is one of the most important steps we can take as a nation to arrest climate change. Methane leaks and venting are accelerating climate change and putting communities at risk, as the Porter Ranch methane spill in California has made tragically clear. 

“Stopping unchecked methane pollution from the existing oil and gas supply chain is the essential next step, and we can't take it fast enough. There is no cheaper, simpler way to slow global warming in the short term and buy the time we urgently need to get off fossil fuels and transition to 100% clean energy.

“Earthjustice will defend this rule in court when the oil and gas industry tries to weaken it. It's past time for oil and gas companies to embrace best practices that could make the difference between catastrophic climate change and a secure future on a livable planet.”

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