Senate restores methane emission rules for oil and gas industry

The US Senate yesterday approved a reversion to the Obama-era methane emissions regulations that were rescinded under the Trump administration.

The regulation, called Performance Standards for New Oil and Gas Sources, was implemented in 2012 and 2016 and targeted methane leaks from new oil and gas wells and pipelines, Reuters reports.

“This is the first of many important steps the Senate will take,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was among the senators who introduced the resolution to reinstate the rules on methane.

“If we can solve our methane problem, we can quickly reduce the effects of global warming,” said main sponsor of the bill, Martin Heinrich.

“This is a very serious public health problem,” Heinrich said in an online event in late March, ahead of this month’s vote to return the regulation. “Plus, it’s a huge waste of a precious resource. There’s a reason the best-in-class producers don’t lose that much methane because they invest, they want to keep this, this is their product, this is what they sell. “

Senator Heinrich is from New Mexico, one of the largest oil-producing states in the United States.

Methane has only come to the center of environmental and regulatory attention relatively recently as part of the pursuit of carbon emissions reductions. Methane leaks are common in the oil industry and, in the short term, more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2 because of their greater greenhouse effect. However, methane has a much shorter lifespan than carbon dioxide.

When the pandemic struck last year, methane emissions fell 60% as drillers curbed production. Now that drilling is starting to recover, emissions are also recovering and at a much faster rate. Thus, if production ever reaches pre-pandemic levels, methane emissions could reach a new record in the absence of regulatory and voluntary action.

By Charles Kennedy for Oil chauffage

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