Mayors push Obama to write methane regulations

Mayors push Obama to write methane regulations
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A group of American mayors are asking the Obama administration to issue strong rules on methane leaks and emissions at oil and gas drilling sites. 

The mayors said methane represents a climate change crisis given its potency as a greenhouse gas pollutant. They also called it a public health issue, nothing its impact on air pollution around drilling sites and natural gas storage wells. 

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Cutting emissions, the mayors wrote, “will protect our constituents from unhealthy air pollution associated with the methane and toxic chemicals emitted from oil and gas infrastructure and equipment, and protect us from the consequences of climate change that our cities and counties face on a daily basis.” 

The list of mayors on the letter includes those from Denver, Santa Fe, N.M., Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Several are from Colorado, which has instituted its own state controls on methane emissions, and New Mexico, which has some of the most concentrated levels of methane in the nation. 

Obama has pushed methane regulations as a top environmental policy on his way out of office. The Environmental Protection Agency is working to finalize methane rules for new drilling sites and will soon begin the process of writing a rule for new wells. The Bureau of Land Management is looking to write rules for methane leaks at drilling sites on federal land. 

Combined, the mayors said, that suite of rules will make a big dent in American methane emissions. 

The oil and gas industry says federal regulations are unnecessary because drillers have a financial incentive to cut down on methane — the key component of natural gas — on their own. They note methane levels have decreased recently without any federal regulations.