US Unveils Methane Rules at COP28 to Curtail Oil and Gas Industry Emissions

By Editor


The Joe Biden administration introduced long-awaited regulations targeting methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas sector at the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai. These rules, developed over two years, align with global efforts to mitigate emissions contributing to climate change.

Highlighting the potency of methane in driving climate change, officials emphasized its prevalence in leaking from oil drilling sites, gas pipelines, and related equipment. Compared to carbon dioxide, methane possesses higher warming potential and breaks down faster in the atmosphere, necessitating immediate action to curb its release, Reuters news report said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the new standards designed to ban routine natural gas flaring from newly drilled oil wells, mandate leak monitoring at well sites and compressor stations, and implement a program using third-party remote sensing to identify significant methane releases from “super emitters.”

EPA estimates these regulations could prevent approximately 58 million tons of methane emissions between 2024 and 2038, equivalent to the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2021. The rules aim to yield substantial climate and health benefits, amounting to $7.6 billion annually through 2038, alongside recovering up to $13 billion worth of natural gas.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham lauded the rules, citing her state’s existing methane regulations as a model. She emphasized that these measures position the U.S. as an exemplar for other nations, underscoring accountability in combating pollution.

Environmental groups welcomed the standards, hailing them as pivotal in curbing climate pollution and safeguarding the well-being of communities near fossil fuel extraction sites, Reuters news report said.

However, the rule’s industry impact remains a focal point, with the American Petroleum Institute (API) reviewing its implications. API stressed the need for a balanced approach to emissions reduction while meeting rising energy demands. Exxon and BP expressed a measured approval pending thorough review, indicating support for reasonable and sound policies in combating methane emissions.

The final rule, differing from earlier drafts, grants the industry extended compliance timelines and adjusts the Super Emitter Program’s mechanics, ensuring methane leak data goes directly to the EPA for verification instead of directly to companies, a provision contested by the oil and gas industry.

Latest News