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The U.S. unveils crackdown on methane

As part of a more comprehensive strategy to combat climate change, the Biden administration will unveil a plan on Tuesday. Biden wants to reduce methane emissions across the country, beginning with oil and gas wells, pipelines, and other infrastructure.

The announcement of the United States Methane Emissions Reduction Plan is seeking to reclaim global leadership. It wants to do it by demonstrating tangible steps to reduce emissions at home. President Joe Biden has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030. Still, he is trying to get substantial climate legislation to pass through a highly divided Congress. This makes federal agency policies even more important.

The centerpiece of the plan his administration will unveil on Tuesday is an EPA proposal. Hence, it will regulate methane emissions from existing oil and gas operations for the first time. Oil and gas are responsible for one-third of methane emissions. Methane, the second-leading cause of climate change after carbon dioxide, has emerged as a critical topic at the Glasgow conference. Reducing emissions can significantly impact the climate’s trajectory. This happens because of its strong heat-trapping potential and relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere.

Oil and Gas

The EPA proposal will compel oil and gas companies to periodically monitor 300,000 of their largest well sites and other infrastructure for methane leaks and repair them.

Regan said that the rule would immediately impact climate change. Therefore, it will improve air quality in low-income “environmental justice” areas near oil and gas operations.

The EPA proposal would also require oil drillers who create natural gas as a byproduct to sell it or flare it instead of venting it into the atmosphere and improving storage tanks, compressors, and pneumatic pumps to decrease leaks. Next year, it plans to issue a follow-up proposal that will flesh out the regulatory text. Furthermore, it might broaden the rule to encompass additional methane sources, gas flares, and pipeline “pigging” operations for cleaning or repairing tank truck loading.

The measures should go into force in 2023. It would reduce methane emissions from oil and gas activities by 74% from 2005 levels by 2035. This amount is similar to the emissions produced by all passenger cars and flights in the United States in 2019.

According to the EPA’s proposals, companies with well sites that release an estimated 3 tons of methane per year or more must monitor for leaks periodically. Oil and gas business groups have lobbied the EPA to exempt smaller wells from the requirements. They say that the vast number of such wells and the expense of monitoring and repairs.

Cutting Coal Investment

China and the G20 measures are trying to stop supporting new projects overseas. According to new research released on Tuesday, nearly all internationally available development financing now wants to lower or eliminate investment in coal-fired power.

On the eve of a fresh round of climate talks in Glasgow, the G20 nations vowed to cease international financing for all coal-fired power facilities on Sunday. Moreover, in September, it came on the heels of a similar pledge Chinese President Xi Jinping made to the United Nations General Assembly.

The G20 pledge means that 99 percent of all development finance institutions have to reduce coal investment and increase support for renewables.

Coal is already failing to compete with renewables. Many analysts predict that the sector will eventually consist of billions of dollars in “stranded assets.”

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