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Biden administration issues rule to cut methane emissions from oil and gas 

The Biden administration on Saturday announced new regulations that are expected to deliver significant cuts to the greenhouse gas methane in the oil and gas sector. 

The rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), tees up emissions reductions for both new oil and wells and, for the first time, existing oil and gas wells.

An EPA press release said the rule is expected to prevent 58 million tons of methane from entering the atmosphere between 2024 and 2038. These emissions savings are the climate equivalent of taking 28 million gas-powered cars off the road for a year.

Methane is a planet-warming gas that’s about 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for about 25 percent of global warming. 

It mainly comes from the production and transport of fossil fuels — as well as from livestock and other agriculture and decaying waste in landfills. Natural gas is primarily made up of methane.

The announcement was made as the U.S. looks to show that it is tackling the issue and encourage other nations to do the same during the global climate summit known as COP28 being held in Dubai. While President Biden will not go this year’s summit, other officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, are attending.

The EPA rule would deliver the methane emissions cuts through policies aimed at limiting leaks, such as requiring monitoring and repairs. 

The final rule also adds an additional requirement for new wells — to phase in the elimination of the routine burning off of excess gas that’s extracted alongside oil. The practice, known as flaring, occurs when companies opt to burn off gas that comes alongside oil production instead of capturing it for use. 

The new requirement on flaring goes further than previous proposals and comes after pressure from Democrats to take further action to address flaring. 

The EPA’s rule also includes a program that will require oil and gas companies to investigate large releases of methane when those releases are identified by certified third parties. 

In addition to methane, the rule is also expected to reduce pollution, preventing  590,000 tons of toxic air pollutants from being emitted from 2024 to 2038.

Methane regulations have been something of a political issue in recent years. The Trump administration rolled back methane regulations. 

However, President Biden was able to undo that rule with the help of Congress since a law called the Congressional Review Act allows for the reversal of recently passed rules. 

Biden’s latest action received a warm response from at least one player in the oil and gas industry.

“BP welcomes the finalization of a federal methane rule for new, modified and – for the first time – existing sources,” said Orlando Alvarez, chairman and president of BP America, in a press release issued by the EPA. “We appreciate the collaborative way EPA, NGOs and industry worked together on this rulemaking.”

Source: The Hill

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