Press Release Nov 2, 2021

New Methane Rule Means Critical Benefits for National Parks

Stronger regulations will reduce methane pollution from oil and gas facilities that harms parks and the climate

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed groundbreaking federal regulations to significantly limit methane and other harmful emissions from both new and existing oil and gas operations.

The oil and gas industry is the largest producer of methane in the U.S., and by regulating them, the EPA’s rule will reduce 74 percent of emissions by 2030 – from methane sources covered under the rule – as compared to 2005 levels.

Read the full EPA proposal: EPA Proposes New Source Performance Standards Updates, Emissions Guidelines to Reduce Methane and Other Harmful Pollution from the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

“The EPA’s rule proposal is a vital piece of the climate solution puzzle. Our national parks’ glaciers are melting, landscapes are drying and forests are burning due to the climate crisis. Sharp reductions in methane is nonnegotiable if we are to better protect our public lands and frontline communities. Cutting methane pollution is essential to safeguard the people and places we cherish.” said Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel for National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air and Climate Programs.

Methane reductions are critical to achieving the Biden Administration’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement and a cornerstone of Biden’s commitment to be a leader on the Global Methane Pledge, which seeks to reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. The EPA’s rule brings us closer to these goals by requiring more frequent inspection, repair of methane gas leaks and use of the best operational technology, to name a few, which will not only help avoid climate damage but also limit volatile organic compounds that harm public health and the natural world.

In its most recent assessment of climate science, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that reducing methane is critical to staving off the worst of the climate crisis because methane is a greenhouse gas that is 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period and is often leaked during oil and gas extraction which degrades air quality and increases climate change.

Nearly every single one of our more than 400 national parks suffer from the effects of climate change. Because methane emissions contribute to climate change, it puts park visitors, wildlife, and cultural and natural resources at risk. The 2,500 square mile methane cloud over Mesa Verde National Park and New Mexico’s San Juan Basin is one of many examples of how oil and gas pollution reaches the doorsteps of our most iconic national treasures, harming the health of visitors and inflicting damage on parks’ ecosystems.

“EPA’s proposal is encouraging, and we appreciate the agency recognizing the need to evaluate even more measures to address methane emissions, including more frequent inspections of smaller producing wells and flaring. The time to act on climate solutions is now if we are to protect our most beloved places and our communities,” said Kodish.


Read more from NPCA