The Obama administration on Thursday announced a set of much-anticipated – and first ever – steps to regulate oil and gas industry emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas second only to carbon dioxide in its role in the climate debate.
In particular, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new rule that will target emissions from new or modified oil and gas wells – and prevent 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by the year 2025, the agency said.
And while this would not apply to the vast numbers of existing rigs, well pads and auxiliary equipment that have driven a historic boom in domestic oil and gas production, the agency also signaled that it plans to regulate these as well. It issued a new request for more information from industry to help study how to contain emissions from these sources.
It all adds up to a suite of new or planned regulations, by the outgoing administration, to curb fugitive emissions of a gas that is drawing ever more attention, despite debate over how much the U.S. is emitting and how severely that contributes to climate change.