Press Release May 12, 2016

EPA Finalizes Rules to Reduce Methane Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized rules to reduce methane pollution. The rules will help protect air in our national parks and curb climate change.

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever federal regulations to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The rules will apply to new and modified sources of oil and gas development, while the EPA is working on parallel rules to curb waste from already-existing sources, due later this year.

The new regulations aim to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, the single-largest emitter of methane in the United States. Emissions from the industry are already up 20 to 30 percent from 2012 levels. The new federal standards require proven, low-cost safeguards at all new and modified oil and gas sites. The proposed rules are expected to achieve half of the Obama Administration’s goal of slashing methane by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps over 80 times more heat on our planet than carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane is often leaked and vented during oil and gas operations, degrading air quality, driving climate change and harming the natural conditions of our national parks. Studies show that up to 40 percent of methane on the Bakken Formation that surrounds Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is vented.

The EPA has begun working on similar rules to curb methane pollution from existing sources, and the Bureau of Land Management also has methane regulations underway for lands under its control.

Below is a statement by Nicholas Lund, senior manager for conservation and energy at National Parks Conservation Association:

“The EPA’s action today represents a bold step forward toward reducing methane pollution that impairs our air, lands, water, and wildlife, all of which must remain healthy to sustain America’s national parks. The accidental release of methane from oil and gas production drives climate change, changing park ecosystems and threatening the resources protected by the parks.

“Thankfully, low-cost technical solutions to help prevent methane pollution exist, and in conjunction with improved leak detection and prevention will go a long way towards curtailing the release of this pollution. These proposed regulations will support the implementation of these solutions, and EPA should build on this effort by working quickly on complementary rules for methane waste from existing sources.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.