Biden targets methane emissions from oil and gas

The Biden administration has announced plans to tighten regulations against methane emissions from domestic oil and gas drilling.

The new measures were unveiled at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, and are part of the administration’s broader commitments to the global community to tackle the climate crisis.

The regulations aim to curb a key source of pollution and harmful emissions from fossil fuel companies. They require oil and gas operators to use remote sensing technology to identify and address large methane leaks and routinely monitor all well sites.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the proposed standards would reduce methane from the oil and gas sector by 87% below 2005 levels.

“The United States is once again a global leader in confronting the climate crisis, and we must lead by example when it comes to tackling methane pollution — one of the biggest drivers of climate change,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

The announcement comes in the same week that Mexican state oil company Pemex said it is to work with the EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet ambitious international commitments.

With technical support from the EPA, Pemex said it would develop and implement a plan in the first half of next year to help mitigate these emissions.

“Through the agreement, the EPA will support (Pemex) with economic diagnoses and analyses to support decision-making in its onshore oil and natural gas operations,” it said in a statement.

Pemex’s onshore oil and gas operations have been under increased scrutiny this year, particularly in relation to the flaring of natural gas. 

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, in the race to be a possible 2024 presidential candidate for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s ruling Morena party, also stressed the urgency of reducing global warming.

“Mexico will do its part: a 35% reduction of all its emissions by 2030,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ebrard had traveled to Egypt to attend the COP27 climate summit, where he also met with US climate envoy John Kerry. 

Methane accounts for a much smaller percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions than carbon dioxide (CO2), but methane’s molecular structure makes it able to trap more heat in the atmosphere per molecule than CO2. This makes methane a significant driver of short-term warming.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that methane is responsible for more than 25% 0f global warming since pre-industrial times.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the proposed standards would reduce methane from the oil and gas sector by 87% below 2005 levels.

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