EPA Announces Rules to Cut Methane Emissions

oil well
Oil Well (Wikipedia)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced some new rules last week designed to cut the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere as a byproduct of oil drilling operations. Methane is a greenhouse gas that’s being blamed for about 25% of the ongoing manmade global warming. The new rules are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The EPA estimates the proposed rules would reduce methane emissions by 340,000 to 400,000 short tons by 2025, the equivalent of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 7.7 to 9 million metric tons. The agency estimates the cost to implement the rules would be about $420 million, but the benefits to the economy would exceed that amount by about $120 to $150 million.

The oil industry, of course, immediately criticized the rules, even though they would only apply to new drilling operations. The American Petroleum Institute complained that the new rules would be “duplicative, costly, and undermine America’s competitiveness.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) also weighed in against the new methane rules, but in an unexpected manner. “We are concerned that restrictions on methane gas emissions might be extended beyond new oil drilling operations,” said RNC spokesperson Kirsty Kookorian. “If they become widespread, it could make it very difficult for us to conduct Republican presidential candidate debates.”

Updates

On September 10, 2018, it was reported that the Donald Trump administration plans to propose to eliminate regulations that limit methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells.

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