The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek methane cuts from the industry of 40% to 45% by 2025 compared with 2012 levels, according to an administration official not authorized to speak publicly.
Methane is the second most prevalent gas tied to climate change after carbon dioxide. The gas seeps from wells and the compressors, pumps, pipes and storage tanks that make up the oil and gas production and distribution network.
It’s worrisome because methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat because of greenhouse effect. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the USA’s greenhouse gas pollution.
About one-third of the methane emissions come from oil and gas production and transmission.
The White House says it can make the moves under the Clean Air Act, rather than by trying to push legislation through the Republican-controlled congress.
Methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and production and transmission systems are projected to increase because of the breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology that have led to an energy boom. A 2014 study published in the journal Science found that methane was leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought.
Mr. Obama’s new regulations will be designed to curb methane leaks from oil and gas wells, pipelines and valves — the entire fossil fuel drilling, production and transportation system.
Initially, they will apply only to new and modified oil and gas systems.
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