White House announces Actions to Cut Methane Emissions

January 14, 2015
Washington, D.C.

 

The White House just announced a new goal to cut U.S. methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. This includes a series of steps encompassing both commonsense standards and cooperative engagement with states, tribes and industry, building on prior actions by the Administration, and leadership in states and industry, to put the U.S. on a path toward the 2025 goal. This will be accomplished via a coordinated, cross-agency effort, ensuring a harmonized approach that also considers the important role of FERC, state utility commissions and environmental agencies, and industry.

Some of these actions include the following (Crossposted from WhiteHouse.gov):

Consider Enhancing Leak Detection and Emissions Reporting

EPA will continue to promote transparency and accountability for existing sources by strengthening its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program to require reporting in all segments of the industry. In addition to finalizing the updates to the program EPA has already proposed by the end of 2015, EPA will explore potential regulatory opportunities for applying remote sensing technologies and other innovations in measurement and monitoring technology to further improve the identification and quantification of emissions and improve the overall accuracy and transparency of reported data cost-effectively.

Lead by Example on Public Lands

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will update decades-old standards to reduce wasteful venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas, which is primarily methane, from oil and gas wells.  These standards, to be proposed this spring, will address both new and existing oil and gas wells on public lands. This action will enhance our energy security and economy by boosting America’s natural gas supplies, ensuring that taxpayers receive the royalties due to them from development of public resources, and reducing emissions. BLM will work closely with EPA to ensure an integrated approach.

Reduce Methane Emissions while Improving Pipeline Safety

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will propose natural gas pipeline safety standards in 2015.  While the standards will focus on safety, they are expected to lower methane emissions as well.

Drive Technology to Reduce Natural Gas Losses and Improve Emissions Quantification

The President’s FY16 Budget will propose $15 million in funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and demonstrate more cost-effective technologies to detect and reduce losses from natural gas transmission and distribution systems.  This will include efforts to repair leaks and develop next generation compressors. The President’s budget will also propose $10 million to launch a program at DOE to enhance the quantification of emissions from natural gas infrastructure for inclusion in the national Greenhouse Gas Inventory in coordination with EPA....

The entire press release is available here.

Prior actions (Cross posted from WhiteHouse.gov)

This announcement builds on the “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions” released in March 2014. Since its release, the Administration has taken a number of actions to set us on a course to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and other sources:

  • DOE has launched a new initiative that will make up to $30 million available to develop low-cost highly sensitive technologies that can help detect and measure methane emissions from oil and gas systems. Just last month, DOE announced the 11 innovative projects selected.
  • DOE convened a series of roundtable discussions with leaders from industry, environmental organizations, state regulators, consumer groups, academia, labor unions, and other stakeholders.  The meetings culminated in July 2014, with the creation of an Initiative to Modernize Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure that laid out a series of executive actions, partnerships, and stakeholder commitments to help modernize the nation’s natural gas transmission and distribution systems, increase safety and energy efficiency and reduce methane emissions.
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), EPA and DOE, in partnership with the dairy industry, released a Biogas Opportunities Roadmap in August 2014 highlighting voluntary actions to reduce methane emissions through the use of biodigesters.
  • BLM released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in April 2014 to gather public input on the development of a program for the capture and sale, or disposal, of waste methane from coal mines on public lands. 
  • EPA proposed updates to its 1996 New Source Performance Standards for new municipal solid waste landfills and sought public feedback on whether EPA should update guidelines for existing landfills in June 2014, which they anticipate finalizing this year.
This page last updated 01/15/2015 - 11:56