Energy & Environment

Biden expected to announce stronger proposed methane regulations for oil and gas at climate conference

President Biden
Greg Nash
President Biden answers questions during a press conference in the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 following the midterm elections.

President Biden is expected to announce a proposal for stronger regulations on the oil and gas sector aimed at controlling emissions of a planet warming gas called methane. 

The stronger methane regulations are part of a slew of climate-related actions that Biden is expected to announce during his trip to the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects that in 2030, the requirements would cut 87 percent of methane emissions from the pollution sources that it regulates when compared to 2005 levels. 

The proposal strengthens a Biden administration proposal from last year that was expected to have cut methane emissions from regulated sources by 74 percent in 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

The EPA press release says that taken together, its two methane proposals would reduce about 36 million tons of methane emissions between 2023 and 2035, which it said is nearly the planet-warming equivalent of greenhouse gases emitted from all of the country’s coal-fired power plants in 2020. 

Methane, like carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas that warms the planet. Methane has a shorter lifespan than carbon dioxide, but is more than 25 times as potent.

Among the new provisions is the creation of what’s being called a “super-emitter response program” that would require oil and gas operators to respond to credible reports of large methane leaks. 

The rule, which was released by the EPA early Friday, is expected to require that wells are monitored for leaks until they are closed and put new regulations on a practice called flaring in which excess gas is burned off. The agency estimated that between 2023 and 2035 the regulations would save enough natural gas to power 3.5 million homes. 

The rule is one of several announcements that Biden is expected to highlight. 

The U.S., with the European Union, Japan, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom, is expected to announce a joint declaration to minimize flaring, as well as methane and carbon dioxide emissions in fossil energy. 

Biden is also expected to give additional U.S. funds to help developing nations adapt to climate change’s impacts. Specifically, he’ll double the country’s pledge to the adaptation fund, adding an additional $50 million to his prior pledge and will also announce  $150 million for adaptation initiatives in Africa. 

The methane rule received a fairly neutral reaction from some oil and gas industry groups.

Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration and Production Council, said in a statement that the group “appreciate[s] EPA’s inclusion of many of the recommendations we made for needed changes and clarifications for upstream.”

But, she added, “we still have concerns that should be addressed to make key provisions truly workable, but we will continue to work with EPA on meaningful solutions.”

The supplemental proposal was received positively by many environmental groups. 

Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs at Environmental Defense Fund said in a statement that the regulation “reinforces the United States’ firm commitment to climate action.”

This story was updated at 9:33 a.m.

Tags Africa Biden Biden administration Canada carbon dioxide emissions Climate change COP27 Egypt Environmental Protection Agency European Union flaring Japan methane emissions Norway super-emitter response program United Kingdom United States

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