Voluntary EPA Program to Reduce Methane from Oil & Gas Industry Won’t Cut It
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 23, 2015) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released a proposed voluntary initiative for reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, called the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program.
A statement follows from Meleah Geertsma, attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The industry would like us to believe it will reduce this potent climate pollution out of the goodness of their hearts—we don’t buy it. If voluntary measures worked, they'd already be in place. In order to meet the administration’s commendable methane reduction goals, we need legally required nationwide standards. A self-policing approach is no substitute.”
The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial emitter of methane, which is the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide. Smog-forming and toxic chemicals that leak from oil and gas sites along with methane also harm air quality, endangering the health of people in neighboring communities.
Most of the industry’s methane pollution comes from leaks and intentional venting that can be identified and curbed with existing, low-cost technology and better maintenance practices. NRDC released a report last fall that shows how EPA can cut methane pollution in half, while dramatically reducing harmful air pollution at the same time, by issuing federal standards.
In January, the White House announced a goal of cutting dangerous methane pollution from gas industry 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.