Methane is a powerful pollutant that speeds the warming of our climate. Oil and gas development is responsible for most of the methane emissions in the United States, as well as other pollution, which together creates smog that threatens public health and our national parks.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas and can trap 84 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Methane is emitted into the air during the oil and gas development, transportation, and production processes.
When methane is released into the atmosphere, it mixes with other pollutants like volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides to form unhealthy smog which speeds up climate change, harms national park air quality and public health.
Methane is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, which is causing catastrophic harm to our national parks. The glaciers in Glacier National Park are rapidly melting and changes in glaciers create rising seas, which causes flooding in our coastal parks and nearby communities. Strong storms and rising temperatures threaten landscapes and historic structures at parks across the country. Greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, must be reduced to combat the impacts of climate change on national parks.
Allowing methane to leak or burn off into the atmosphere also wastes energy that should be earning royalties for the public. Oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands alone are wasting an estimated $330 million nationwide each year through leaks, venting and flaring.
A Path to Methane Emissions Reductions
Two federal agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — created standards in 2016 to help keep methane out of the air. Then, from 2017-2020, the administration and members of Congress sought to undermine and weaken both rules over the past few years–these actions cost us years of reducing emissions and limiting climate pollution.
Moving forward, we’re optimistic that the EPA and BLM will set in place stronger rules that will better cut methane emissions from leaking gas wells and equipment that takes gas to markets like pipelines and storage equipment. Additionally, we are advocating that the rules end the wasteful and dangerous practice of routine venting and flaring; require regular monitoring of small, high-polluting and leak-prone wells; and require monitoring and plugging of abandoned wells that leak methane.
Now, and over the years, NPCA members and supporters have advocated for robust rules to curb methane emissions in order to protect public health and national parks. NPCA will continue to advocate for strong rules that not only reduce methane and other harmful oil and gas emissions, but also save taxpayers money, and decrease the air and climate pollution that is harming our communities, national parks and planet.
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