Biden calls for a fight against methane at COP27


President Joe Biden spoke on Friday at COP27, the UN’s annual climate conference, to persuade the world that america is more committed than ever to fighting climate change. Along with touting the passage of the most important climate law in US history, the president announced several initiatives to curb methane greenhouse gas emissions, including latest oil and gas regulations within the country and a plan to chop emissions internationally.

Limiting methane emissions is an urgent climate project. Gas is 80 to 90 times stronger than carbon dioxide when heating the planet in the primary 20 years within the atmosphere and leaks from fossil fuel infrastructure, from wells to pipelines to power plants and houses. Methane breaks down within the atmosphere over several many years, meaning addressing these spills today could quickly reduce its impact – which might decelerate climate change and contain a few of its worst effects.

A 12 months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed laws on methane leakages from existing oil and gas plants. The US has already introduced some rules to stop leakage from latest wells, but existing wells can still contaminate. Now, after a protracted period of public comments, the agency is proposing even tougher regulations which will enter into force next 12 months. Environmental groups applauded the federal government on Friday for addressing key issues raised by experts of their opinions on the unique proposal.

“The Biden administration continues to advance these key standards,” said Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs, Environmental Defense Fund.

Under last 12 months’s proposal, if the emissions from a specific oil or gas well were low enough, those wells could be exempt from routine leakage monitoring. Now the EPA desires to repeatedly monitor all wells – including those which are not being pumped but not yet properly closed. These previously decommissioned wells, also known as “marginal wells” because they don’t produce much oil or gas, are estimated to account for greater than 50% of all methane on the drilling site.

The oil and gas industry struggled to exclude marginal drilling wells from monitoring, arguing that the regulations could be too burdensome for smaller firms. Nevertheless, the Environmental Defense Fund has determined that three-quarters of those wells are literally owned by large firms, with a mean gross revenue of $ 335 million in 2019.

The EPA can be proposing to strengthen the bounds on “combustion”, an industry practice to burn methane from oil wells, turning it into carbon dioxide – which remains to be harmful to the climate but less within the short term. But flares repeatedly fail, and a less wasteful alternative is to capture this gas and sell it in order that if it gets burned, it at the very least produces useful energy. The brand new rules would require shaft operators to capture gas unless they’ll prove that it isn’t feasible or protected to achieve this.

“While we’re disenchanted, the EPA didn’t propose a whole ban on lightning within the oil and gas industry,” said Melissa Hornbein, senior attorney on the Western Environmental Law Center, “we’re nevertheless encouraged by the strong measures within the draft rule to combat leak detection and repair. from all sources, including low-capacity and abandoned wells. “

The third big change is a “super emitter program” that may empower third parties that track methane spills to notify firms when large plumes are detected and require firms to reply inside days. Satellite firms corresponding to Kayrros repeatedly discover large methane leaks within the Permian Basin, an oil and gas field spanning west Texas and southern Recent Mexico. Until now, this data has been used to shame firms – now it may possibly be used for law enforcement.

The EPA says the regulations will bring an estimated $ 3 billion in climate and health advantages per 12 months in compliance costs. This includes stopping 36 million tonnes of methane from entering the atmosphere by 2030, the greenhouse gas comparable to the one-year shutdown of all US coal-fired power plants. Estimates also include the elimination of nearly 10 million tonnes of volatile organic compounds, chemical gases emitted by oil and gas infrastructure that may harm human health and contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Upon entry into force, the foundations will work in tandem with the methane emissions tax set by the Inflation Reduction Act Biden signed in August. From 2025, serious criminals can be charged as much as $ 1,500 for each ton of excess methane they release.

Along with strengthening the country’s regulations, Biden can be working to strengthen international cooperation on methane. Eventually 12 months’s Glasgow climate conference, america announced its global methane promise to chop methane emissions from all sources by 30 percent by 2030. At COP27 on Friday, america, together with the European Union and plenty of other partner countries, developed methane emission monitoring and reporting standards that may help create a ‘low methane natural gas’ market.

Greater than 130 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge, and dozens are expected to publish more detailed plans for methane at a conference. However the initiative still has not attracted the three worst methane criminals on the earth – Russia, India and China.

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