The rules over the last two years are working,” said Dan Grossman, the Rockie Mountain regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund. “They’re proven. Companies are complying and methane pollution is being reduced.” And the EPA rules are only in place for new facilities. The organization is still working on a plan to handle existing facilities. In Colorado, the rules address both new installations and structures that already exist. We like the fact that Colorado is leading the way in keeping businesses productive while keeping a close eye on the environment.
Los Estándares finales de Desempeño de Nuevas Fuentes están proyectados para reducir emisiones de metano en 510,000 toneladas cortas al año (equivalente a 460,000 toneladas métricas), para 2025.
Para 2025, estas reducciones de metano tendrán los mismos beneficios climáticos de 20 años como:
- Quemar 11 plantas de energía menos de carbón cada año
- Quitar de las calles a 8.5 millones de autos cada año
But reducing methane emissions is key as it traps heat at a rate 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. Reducing human methane emissions could buy valuable time in the global effort to reduce human carbon dioxide emissions. Methane is a byproduct of oil production — and a pollutant that has environmental and health impacts. Proper handling of it should be viewed as the cost of normal business practice.
By reducing emissions of short-lived climate forcers like methane, we can take significant steps towards meeting our global greenhouse gas reduction targets, clean up the air near oil and gas facilities, save industry money and continue to spur American innovation. Doing so will better protect our constituents from unhealthy air pollution associated with methane and toxic chemicals emitted from oil and gas infrastructure and equipment, and protect us from the consequences of climate change that our cities and counties face on a daily basis.
Colorado’s rules arose from recommendations of both environmentalists and producers. Capturing methane carries a certain cost. BLM leak detection and repair provisions would be offset by more gas into gas lines and more royalties paid to state coffers. It’s a net positive impact for all parties.
These rules will be increasingly important as industry continues to make new discoveries using the controversial technology that has made the natural gas boom possible, known as hydraulic fracturing. What the rules do not do is cover the multitude of existing oil and gas wells, which as of now account for the vast bulk of methane emissions. The administration has promised to develop such rules in the months ahead; without them there is no chance that Mr. Obama’s goals can be met.
Right now, when companies produce oil and gas, they release a tremendous amount of methane into the atmosphere. Much of this waste occurs on federally owned lands and subsurface minerals. In the West, where the majority of the nation’s public lands are located, existing state rules to guard against waste fail to address this problem. Fortunately, the federal government is setting new standards to provide a strong floor of protection, force the industry to act more responsibly, and guide states in updating their waste rules.
Now, the EPA has followed up with a long-anticipated national rule that aims to reduce the industry’s methane emissions to 40 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 — by 510,000 tons a year, the amount of methane produced by about 10 coal-fueled power plants. The reductions can be achieved with existing technology. That will result in additional costs, but also in the industry having much more methane to sell. This is a case in which the country can have the benefits of a strong gas industry and of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. State and federal governments should make the rule work with strong monitoring and enforcement.