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Biden Administration Issues Final Rule To Cut Methane Emissions In US Oil And Gas Industry

The methane rule is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration, which includes financial incentives for electric vehicles and infrastructure upgrades, amounting to approximately USD 1 trillion over 10 years.

US President Joe Biden
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The Biden administration has taken a significant step in its climate agenda by issuing a final rule targeting methane emissions in the US oil and natural gas industry. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the rule, which aims to sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants generated by the industry. The rule promotes the use of advanced methane detection technologies with the goal of delivering notable public health benefits, such as reducing hospital visits, lost school days, and even deaths, as reported by AP.

Methane emissions from oil and gas operations have been identified as a major contributor to global warming, with detrimental effects on human health, including cancer, harm to the nervous and respiratory systems, and birth defects. The announcement came during the UN climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, where EPA Administrator Michael Regan and White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change.

In a parallel development, the president of the climate summit disclosed that 50 oil companies, representing nearly half of global production, have pledged to achieve near-zero methane emissions and cease routine flaring by 2030. Vice President Kamala Harris, addressing the summit, stressed the need for bold action to confront the consequences of climate change.

The methane rule is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration, which includes financial incentives for electric vehicles and infrastructure upgrades, amounting to approximately USD 1 trillion over 10 years. Oil and gas operations are recognized as the largest industrial source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about one-third of planet-warming emissions.

The new rule differs from previous EPA regulations by targeting emissions from existing oil and gas wells nationwide, rather than focusing solely on new wells. It also regulates smaller wells, addressing the fact that they contribute significantly to methane emissions despite producing only a small fraction of the nation's oil and gas.

Additionally, the rule will phase in a requirement for energy companies to eliminate routine flaring of natural gas produced by new oil wells. The overall aim is to ensure that the United States meets the global goal of reducing methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2020 levels.

This regulatory move is part of a comprehensive strategy by the Biden administration, encompassing over 100 actions to reduce methane emissions. The new rule will be coordinated with a methane fee approved in the 2022 climate law, marking the first time the US government has directly imposed a fee on greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite industry requests for exemptions for the smallest wells, the EPA's standards will be enforced, with a fee structure in place for companies exceeding specified methane emission levels. The law includes financial provisions, such as grants and spending totaling USD 1.5 billion, to support companies and local communities in improving monitoring, data collection, and addressing natural gas leaks.

Public health advocates and environmental organizations have welcomed the rule, considering it a victory for public health and a significant step in addressing climate change. Methane, labeled a "super-polluter" by experts

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