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Five Actions EPA Should Take When Issuing Much-Needed Methane Pollution Standards

May 21, 2015

In January, EPA committed to a series of actions to reduce methane pollution, including setting nationwide methane standards for new and modified oil and gas equipment. Currently, there are no national limits on the amount of methane pollution that the oil and gas industry can release into the air. If you’re wondering why that’s a problem, here’s an example of what the situation looks like:

Curbing this pollution is a “must do” to limit the damage from climate change. It’s also a must for the health of communities near oil and gas equipment: smog-forming and toxic chemicals that escape from oil and gas sites along with methane harm air quality. And while states like Colorado are leading the way on addressing this pollution problem, most have yet to act – even as hydraulic fracturing technology offers companies access to new gas and oil and gas deposits and regulatory incentives and plentiful supply produce heavier reliance on natural gas-fired power plants.

What are public health and environmental groups asking EPA to accomplish in its first major regulatory action on methane? Today, in a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy, more than 60 organizations got specific – we request that the Agency:

  • 1. Require leak detection and repair across the entire oil and natural gas sector, not just at gas processing plants;
  • 2. Extend green completions (requirements to capture gas that otherwise escapes when new wells begin operating) to cover oil wells that produce significant amounts of natural gas;
  • 3. Reduce emissions from “liquids unloading” using currently available technologies;
  • 4. Reduce emissions from pneumatic pumps that are not currently subject to federal requirements, and address emissions from pneumatic controllers that are not covered by previous rules; and,
  • 5. Extend methane reductions requirements across the entire oil and natural gas supply chain, including transmission and storage.

Through these actions, EPA can obtain important reductions in methane pollution emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and natural gas sector and establish a strong foundation for addressing methane and other harmful emissions from existing equipment. These reductions are essential to the health of the planet, and the health of local communities.

Read our letter to Administrator McCarthy here.

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