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Biden EPA is cracking down on methane leaks from the oil and gasoline sector

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech on stage during a meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, November 1, 2021.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose rules on Tuesday to stop methane leaks at hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells in the US in its most aggressive move to curb climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions to date.

The agency’s actions will strengthen regulations for new oil and gas wells and impose new requirements on existing wells that have so far escaped methane regulations. President Joe Biden will officially announce the proposals on day two of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, according to senior administrators.

The methane initiatives will support the president’s commitment to halve domestic emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. The proposals will also advance the US and European Union Global Methane Pledge, a pact to reduce methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade.

More than 90 governments have now signed up to the pledge, including 15 of the world’s 30 largest methane emitters – the US, EU, Indonesia, Pakistan, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, Iraq, Vietnam and Canada, according to the White House.

Methane is an important component of natural gas and accounts for 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and gas industry accounts for nearly 30% of the country’s methane emissions.

Methane is 84 times stronger than carbon and doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down, making it a critical target for quickly tackling climate change while minimizing other greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA’s methane regulations, enacted in response to the President’s order in January, are estimated by White House officials to cover about three-quarters of all US methane emissions.

The Biden administration is launching a state-wide initiative to strengthen methane reduction commitments from the oil and gas sector, officials said, which includes the release of the U.S. action plan to reduce methane emissions.

A landmark United Nations report earlier this year stated that drastically reducing methane is critical to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

According to the UN Global Methane Assessment, the world could cut methane emissions by up to 45% this decade by the Paris Agreement.

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