As an extension of his Climate Action Plan President Obama through the EPA has announced a series of proposals that will reduce methane and other harmful emissions. While there are there are already some voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions, the EPA has proposed new regulations that will significantly reduce methane in the oil and gas sector as well as in landfills.
In June of this year the EPA announced that it was preparing plans to limit methane. On August 18, 2015, the EPA publishes more details of the new rules. The standards are intended for the oil and gas sector. They are designed to reduce methane, VOCs and other toxic air pollutants. Under the proposed regulations the oil and gas industry would have to cut methane emission by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
The new standards would reduce methane emissions by between 340,000 and 400,000 short tons. This is equivalent to reducing 7.7 to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. According to EPA estimates the net climate benefits will be worth between $120 and $150 million. In addition to methane the new rule will eliminate as much as 180,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
To achieve these goals the new EPA rules require the oil and gas industry to find and repair leaks, capture gas leaking from fracking wells, as well as limit emissions from pumps and other equipment. Several studies have shown that due to leakages, natural gas has a higher emissions profile than coal.
The new standards also address airborne toxins, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Under the plan as much as 2,500 tons of these toxic emissions will be eliminated.
On August 14, 2015 the EPA issued two other proposals that are intended to reduce methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills which are the third largest source of anthropogenic methane. As part of the proposals landfills would have to reduce methane emissions by almost one third.
Landfills generate around 18 percent of methane emissions which is the equivalent to 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
The proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year which is equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
The EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.
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