EPA’s New Methane Limits Will Protect Public Health, Climate

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed the first national limits on methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations. The protections, which also include stronger requirements for new wells and equipment, will significantly cut an array of other harmful air pollutants as well.

David Doniger, senior strategic director in the Climate & Clean Energy program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), made the following comment:

“Strong EPA standards to curb methane pollution are essential to protect the climate and our health. Millions of tons of this super-potent greenhouse gas are emitted from oil and gas operations across the country. This step is critical to meet President Biden’s pledge to cut America’s climate pollution in half by 2030.

“This EPA action will also bolster the growing international efforts—led by the United States and the European Union—to significantly reduce methane pollution at the global climate talks in Glasgow.”


Methane packs more than 80 times the climate-warming punch of carbon dioxide in the first two decades after it is leaked or deliberately released from oil and gas wells and other equipment. Millions of tons of toxic and smog forming hydrocarbons leak along with methane and will be reduced as well.

Once finalized, EPA’s standards will cut emissions of methane that leaks from the roughly one million wells currently in operation across the country and from the sprawling web of processing, pipeline, and storage equipment that takes gas to markets across the country. 

EPA’s proposal is expected to acknowledge areas that need more attention, including curbing emissions from methane flaring, and leak detection and repair requirements for hundreds of thousands of wells that together account for a large fraction of emissions but individually produce relatively small amounts of oil or gas. EPA is expected to promise a supplemental proposal to address these gaps. NRDC looks forward to submitting comments on how the final rules can be strengthened.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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