Reducing Methane Pollution

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.

Case 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.

Oil and gas fields in California's Central Valley.
Oil and gas fields in California's Central Valley. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Case Updates

As the sun sets on another California day, a flare burns in an oil field near Bakersfield, CA.
March 13, 2024 Press Release

Health, Environmental, Community Groups Move to Defend EPA Oil and Gas Methane Standards in Court

EPA’s oil and gas methane standards are firmly rooted in science and the law

Natural gas flare
December 6, 2023 Action Alert

Strong methane standards are essential to curb climate pollution

Methane is the second largest contributor to the climate crisis, and it is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Oil and gas operations near residential areas in Colorado. 80% of voters in Western states support cutting methane waste on public lands, according to a 2016 poll by Colorado College’s "State of the Rockies Project."
December 2, 2023 Press Release

Earthjustice Applauds EPA For Finalizing Strong Safeguards Against Methane Pollution

Methane standards will cut climate pollution, safeguard public health and advance environmental justice