Press Release Jan 14, 2015

National Park Advocacy Group Commends Administration for Bold New Methane Rules

Major Step on Climate Pollution will Protect America's Special Places

Washington, DC – The National Parks Conservation Association today called the Obama Administration’s new rule to cut methane pollution a significant step in protecting national parks from climate change.

The new plan will cut methane emissions by 45 percent over the next decade. Methane is a greenhouse gas twenty times as potent as carbon dioxide, and the rules announced today will limit how much is leaked or vented by the oil and gas industry – the single biggest emitter. With new oil and gas development occurring next to national parks around the country, and all parks at risk from the impacts of climate change, the new rule is seen as a welcome step by park advocates.

”Climate change is already having noticeable impacts in national parks,” said Karen Hevel-Mingo, Climate Change Program Manager at National Parks Conservation Association. “Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers could disappear from the park within the century, and Joshua trees could disappear from Joshua Tree National Park. This Administration’s efforts to cut methane are critical to protecting national parks from changing temperatures and fires, increasingly powerful storms, invasive species and rising sea-levels.”

“This is an issue on the doorstep of national parks,” said Stephanie Kodish, Director and Counsel of NPCA’s Clean Air Program. “Today’s announcement reinforces how serious this Administration is about addressing climate change. Because methane is also a precursor to ozone smog, a pollutant that is damaging to human health and a variety of species, benefits of this regulation will extend beyond climate.”

Rapid growth in the domestic production of oil and gas has led to an increase in the amount of methane being leaked or vented into the air. Methane leaks during all stages oil and gas operations, including drilling, production, processing, transportation, and end use. The White House plans to reduce methane leaking by creating new rules to regulate methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for new and modified oil and gas wells, and natural gas transmission and processing sources.

Methane is also vented into the air by some domestic oil and gas companies. On the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, for example, producers focus on more lucrative oil and instead frequently vent methane into the air. Studies show that up to 40% of methane on the Bakken is vented, an act that produces no royalties for the American public. In 2014, NPCA documented examples of venting and flaring on the Bakken Formation near Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“National Parks Conservation Association applauds the Administration’s announcement to address both new and existing sources in the Bureau of Land Management’s developing rulemaking for the venting and flaring of methane on federal lands. These measures will help keep methane out of the air, will help industry capture more gas, and will help ensure a fair return to the American public for their resources,” said Nicholas Lund, Manager in NPCA’s Landscape Conservation Program.

With new oil and gas development occurring next to national parks around the country, and all parks at risk from climate change, NPCA welcomes Administrative action to limit methane, and hopes that the scope of the program will expand to address emissions from non-oil and gas sources.

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and 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.