The EPA Finalized New Limits On Methane Pollution
Today, the EPA issued new safeguards to protect Americans by placing limits on methane emissions from new oil and gas operations. The new limits on the dangerous pollution are a much-needed step in the right direction. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of this pollution. Pound for pound, the gas is 84 times more powerful than carbon pollution at warming the atmosphere. Today’s announcement is key to achieving the Obama administration’s targets for climate action, but must be accompanied by strong limits on leaks from existing sources.
Limiting these dangerous leaks isn’t just about our planet. As we saw with the Porter Ranch leak this winter, methane poses a serious health risk to nearby communities. Methane pollution and toxic chemicals from the oil and gas industry can make smog worse, trigger asthma attacks in children, and cause cardiovascular disease and even premature death.
Like most pollution, methane has a higher impact on communities of color and low income communities: 1.8 million Latinos and 1 million African Americans live within half a mile of oil and gas infrastructure, making them more susceptible to the health threats posed by unregulated methane leaks.
Earlier this year, the Aliso Canyon leak in Porter Ranch California—which became the largest known methane leak in U.S. history—drew attention to the national problem of methane pollution. Unfortunately, we still need action to address leaks from existing methane sources. All of the national actions proposed or announced to date still leave methane from the vast majority–at least 75 percent–of all of the wells and oil and gas infrastructure in use today virtually unregulated. Next, the EPA must act to impose limits on existing sources.
BOTTOM LINE: It was a good day for the climate. President Obama and the EPA are continuing their bold climate leadership by placing limits on methane pollution from new oil and gas operations. But there is still more work to be done. Now, the EPA must act swiftly to address existing sources of this dangerous pollution – waiting is simply too costly to our health and our planet.
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