Emissions from fossil fuel production and transport — especially methane released from oil and gas wells and the processing and transport of natural gas — account for a great deal of climate-warming pollution. Oil and gas companies also leak, flare, and vent billions of dollars’ worth of natural gas, containing methane, in the U.S. every year.
CATF has advocated to that the U.S. EPA and Department of the Interior require common sense and low-cost measures to reduce methane pollution and waste. Nationwide methane standards covering new and existing equipment could reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas impact by more than 100 MMtCO2e, the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from 19 million cars. These measures are all highly cost-effective, and many of the measures will actually pay for themselves in a few years. They constitute some of the least expensive climate mitigation actions available, and would provide health, safety, and energy security benefits as well.
Technology fixes to reduce methane emissions abound. They are largely low-tech, involving better environmental management of oil and gas well completions, improved seals, better flow management, mine degassing, and methane recapture and re-use. And they are relatively low- or even negative- cost.
Some of the biggest opportunities for EPA and Department of the Interior to reduce methane emissions include:
- Requiring companies to find and fix leaks at new and existing facilities across the industry from gas wells to distribution systems in cities;
- Applying the standards EPA finalized in 2016 requires for new equipment in the production, processing, and transmission and storage segments to to existing equipment throughout those segments, including at oil wells;
- Extending these requirements to emissions from oil wells;
- Limiting flaring.
Making methane reductions a matter of clean air law, intelligent regulation and universal industry practice is the goal of CATF’s work on methane.