White House plan targets methane emissions in energy production, waste management
WASHINGTON — The White House announced a wide-ranging plan on Friday aimed at cutting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, landfills and other sources, part of President Obama's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
The White House plan, which could lead to several regulations on energy production and waste management, addresses concerns about increased methane emissions resulting from an ongoing boom in drilling for oil and natural gas.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle and leaks from oil and gas production. It is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long. Methane emissions make up about 9 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, according to government estimates.
Experts say methane leaks can be controlled by fixes such as better gaskets, maintenance and monitoring. Such fixes are also thought to be cost-effective, since the industry ends up with more product to sell.
In the booming Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, huge amounts of methane and other gases are burned off, or flared, during oil production, wasting millions of dollars and contributing to air pollution.
The White House said the Environmental Protection Agency will study how methane is released during oil and gas drilling and decide by the end of the year whether to develop regulations for methane emissions. If imposed, the regulations would be completed by the end of 2016, just before Obama leaves office.
The White House also said the Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.
Next month, the Bureau of Land Management will begin a rule-making process to require the capture and sale of methane waste produced by coal mines on lands leased by the federal government.
This summer, the EPA will propose updated standards to reduce methane from new landfills and consider whether to impose new standards for existing landfills.
In June, the Agriculture Department and other agencies will release a strategy for voluntary steps to reduce methane emissions from cattle, with the goal of cutting dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
Environmental groups praised the White House plan, although they noted that many details remain incomplete.
“The important thing is they charted a specific pathway forward, which we think should lead and will lead to additional standards for (reducing) methane leakage,” said David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Visual search still hampered by image issues
- Healthy PA expands number of recipients but cuts benefits
- Deported migrants find home at call centers
- Government approves compromise on Corbett’s alternative Medicaid plan
- Gas drilling company withdraws application for forced pooling in Western Pennsylvania
- U-PARC houses companies ranging from innovative to traditional