The Obama Administration announced Wednesday a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas, with 25 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Methane emissions accounted for nearly 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, of which nearly 30 percent came from the production transmission and distribution of oil and natural gas.
Emissions from the oil and gas sector are down 16 percent since 1990 and current data show significant reductions from certain parts of the sector, notably well completions. Nevertheless, emissions from the oil and gas sector are projected to rise more than 25 percent by 2025 without additional steps to lower them.
"Reducing methane in the atmosphere is necessary to address the unchecked climate pollution caused by the dramatic growth of oil and gas production in the United States," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in response to the announcement. "This expansion is driven by dangerous techniques, including fracking, which the Sierra Club opposes because they pollute our air and water and hold us back from clean energy prosperity. We cannot afford to wait: regulating methane directly is a critical step, but EPA and [the Bureau of Land Managment] must act quickly to reduce methane emissions from all new and existing sources of methane pollution in the oil and gas sector, including the transmission and distribution of natural gas."