The Threat of Methane Pollution
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and is the second biggest source of carbon emissions after carbon dioxide. As of 2013, methane accounted for about 10% of all US greenhouse gas emissions. Methane has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, but that impact is even higher in the short term - 80 times as potent. We are already feeling the impacts of climate change - we need to act now to reduce methane emissions.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rules to limit methane emissions caused by new oil and gas developments. To compliment these rules, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also proposed methane regulations for new and existing sources on federal and tribal lands. Together, these two proposals offer a much needed federal solution to human caused methane pollution in the US, but there is more that needs to be done. EPA should next propose rules for existing methane sources, which make up 29% of all US methane emissions.
The sprawling oil and gas industry, our nation's largest emitter of methane, fragments critical pronghorn habitat. Photo from BLM New Mexico
Why We Need Strong Methane Regulations:
- Reduce Waste - Methane is a valuable public resource that can be used to generate energy and supply revenue to American taxpayers. According to a recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund, nationwide $330 million was lost in potential revenue from natural gas due to poor capture practices (venting, flaring, and preventable leaks).
- Fight Climate Change - The impacts of climate change are already being felt. In areas of the American West where oil and gas development continues to fragment habitat, iconic species such as the pronghorn are already threatened by a warming climate. If we wish to preserve wildlife and wild places for future generations, we must act now to curb harmful emissions. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas - we must finalize regulations to limit its escape into our atmosphere.
To learn more about the impacts of methane on our health and wildlife and the ongoing efforts to curb this pollution check out our Methane Factsheet and Report.
EPA Methane Rule Factsheet
Addressing Oil and Gas Methane Pollution on Tribal and Public Lands: Threats & Opportunities
Oil and Gas Methane Pollution in Colorado: Threats & Opportunities
Oil and Gas Methane Pollution in Montana: Threats & Opportunities
Oil and Gas Methane Pollution in Ohio: Threats & Opportunities