NEW YORK: The Biden administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan to slash emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas operations as part of its broader strategy to crack down on climate change, drawing cautious support from both environmental groups and drillers.
The announcement coincided with the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where the United States, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, is seeking to reclaim leadership on the world stage by demonstrating tangible steps to curb emissions at home.
President Joe Biden has set a target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2030 but is struggling to pass major climate legislation through a deeply divided Congress, making policies by federal agencies more crucial.
His administration and the European Union are also seeking to lead a new international pact to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, drawing participation from some 90 countries.
At the center of the US plan to tackle methane domestically is an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that will for the first time require oil and gas operators to aggressively find and repair methane leaks. Oil and gas operations account for a third of methane emissions.
“The timing of this is critical. As we speak, world leaders are gathering right now in Glasgow and they are looking to the United States for true leadership,” U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan told Reuters in an interview. “This proposal is absolutely bold, aggressive and comprehensive.” Specifically, the proposal will require companies to monitor 300,000 of their biggest well sites every three months, would ban the venting of methane produced as a byproduct of crude oil into the atmosphere, and require upgrades to equipment such as storage tanks, compressors, and pneumatic pumps.