The White House announced a series of steps today that federal agencies will take to cut down on climate-changing methane pollution. Among other things the strategy targets methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, landfills and coal mines—all key sources of this potent greenhouse gas.
The announcement follows the President’s call last June for a comprehensive strategy to reduce methane pollution, a potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, across various agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Transportation.
According to the White House’s announcement, key next steps will include:
- An assessment by EPA this spring on significant sources of methane from the oil and gas sector in spring 2014, followed by an independent expert review and a determination by EPA by fall 2014 on how to reduce methane pollution. New standards would be completed by the end of 2016;
- Updated standards to reduce venting and flaring from oil and gas production on public lands proposed by DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (late 2014);
- Updated standards to reduce methane from new landfills and an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for public input on standards to reduce methane from existing landfills (Summer 2014);
- BLM will release an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to gather public input on the development of a program for the capture and sale, or disposal of waste mine methane on lands leased by the Federal government (April 2014).
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden:
“When it comes to preventing the most serious impacts of climate change, we don’t have any time to waste. Today’s important announcement by the White House signals that the President is poised to take action on several fronts. We look forward to working with the White House to ensure this plan moves forward as scheduled and is effective in reducing dangerous methane pollution.
“In spite of demonstrated cost-savings, the oil and gas industry has fought against limiting its harmful methane emissions. This industry needs to be held accountable for the reckless damage it is causing to our warming climate as well as the immediate harm it is causing to communities where it operates. We welcome strong action by the Obama administration to reduce methane emissions.”