Greens press Obama to act on methane regs

A coalition of environmental groups wants the Obama administration to propose regulations "swiftly" on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

In a letter sent to President Obama on Thursday, the 16 groups call on the administration to follow through on a methane strategy released earlier this year, which said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would consider regulation on methane emissions.

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"One of the many critical measures needed to protect the health and safety of our citizens from the deleterious effects of oil and gas development is to reduce methane pollution from this industry," the letter states.
 
Groups that signed the letter include the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice and more.

"We therefore respectfully call on you to swiftly issue national standards directly aimed at cutting emissions of harmful, climate-disrupting methane pollution from oil and gas operations," the environmentalists wrote.

The green groups argue that the EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to craft "smart and reasonable methane standards" that will curb pollution and "protect the health and welfare" of people across the U.S.

Methane is a roughly 80 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide during a 20-year timeframe, the groups explained.

The administration has already proposed rules on carbon pollution from existing power plants, which it hopes to finalize by June of 2015.

The EPA is currently weighing whether to implement similar standards on methane for the oil and gas industry. It has said it will decide on the best route this fall.

If the administration wants to finalize the rules before Obama leaves office, however, they would need to act quickly.