EPA Enacts New Methane Emissions Laws
May 13, 2016
On May 12th, the Environmental Protection Agency finally issued rules to reduce dangerous methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas infrastructures. These laws are an important first step in the fight against climate change. This new methane law will result in an overall reduction of 510,000 metric tons of annual methane pollution and also result in the annual reduction of 210,000 tons of smog. This will greatly improve American living standards, however, more methane limits are necessary.
The pollutant Methane is 25 times more powerful than CO2 and is second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. The oil and gas sector is the largest domestic industrial emitter of methane, accounting for 33% of total methane emissions. Most of the industry’s methane pollution comes from leaks and intentional venting, and there is also methane leakage from the extraction, processing, and storage of oil and gas processes. Drilling and fracking operations are the single largest source of pollutant, which accounts for a large amount of greenhouse gas pollution. According to research, existing fracking wells created as much global warming pollution as 22 power plants in a single year. This research showed that emissions due to fracking are far higher than we initially believed. For a long time, oil and gas companies have been allowed to release millions of tons of methane pollution into the air which have had a tremendous impact to the public health and long term stability of our climate.
Methane is one the largest contributors to climate change. It is estimated to have caused a quarter of the 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming that has taken place since 1900. Methane is very dangerous to the human body and in high concentrations can form smog which can trigger asthma attacks in children. While these new environmental standards limiting methane emissions are a great first step, further emissions limits must be enacted in order to reduce the effects of man-made actions on our Earth.