Methane Rules

Our parent organization Interfaith Power & Light has researched the upcoming and proposed methane rules. Here is information to help Hoosiers in our approaches to our US senators and representatives:

The oil and gas industry is leaking millions of tons of methane pollution, a potent greenhouse gas, into our air. Oil and gas sources also emit other dangerous pollutants that harm Americans' health, including smog-forming volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing pollutants like benzene. The “fugitive emissions” are either unintentional leaks or are purposefully released as a byproduct of oil and natural gas production. It was recently announced that more than 9 million metric tons of methane pollution was leaked into the air by the oil and gas industry in 2014. The 20-year climate impact of those emissions is equal to the pollution caused by over 200 coal-fired power plants. 

To address this methane pollution, there are two proposed rules and one rule anticipated in the coming months. The first rule proposed was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on new and modified sources of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The EPA is preparing to finalize this rule. These will be the first national standards for methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. These standards are a huge step towards improving public health and protecting our environment. The second rule was the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule on public and tribal lands and it includes both new and existing sources of methane pollution. The public comment period on this rule recently ended. The third rule, we hope to see proposed by the EPA in the coming months, will address methane pollution from existing oil and gas infrastructure.

Climate change fueled by methane and carbon pollution is a direct threat to our public health and our economy. That’s why these new methane safeguards along with the Clean Power Plan, which sets the very first federal limits on carbon pollution from climate change, are so important.

Why We Need Action on Methane Pollution

Some companies have taken voluntary steps to reduce methane pollution, but voluntary methane reduction measures have not and will not provide our nation’s communities and families with necessary comprehensive health and environmental protections. With thousands of producers around the country, only consistent national rules can ensure that companies have a level playing field and people have the protections they deserve.

Proven, low-cost technologies are already commercially available to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 50% in the next 5 years. Reductions of this magnitude are achievable only by issuing federally enforceable methane pollution standards governing new and existing oil and gas sources on public, private, and tribal lands. 

The benefits of action on methane pollution are many:

Climate Change - Methane pollution is to blame for a quarter of human-caused climate change. Methane traps more than 80 times as much heat in the short term as carbon dioxide.

Public Health - Methane pollution controls would bring important public health benefits for communities located near energy development, by simultaneously cutting smog-forming and cancer-causing pollutants released from the oil and gas sector. Venting, flaring, and leaking natural gas spews millions of tons of toxic pollution into the air every year—damaging the air our children breathe and making asthma attacks more likely. 

Less Waste - We could heat over 7 million homes each winter with the more than $1 billion in methane that industry wastes by leaking it into the air. On public lands, such as BLM lands, the methane that is wasted loses revenue for taxpayers. According to a recent report, U.S. taxpayers could lose out on $800 million over the next decade as a result of wasteful venting and flaring. Half of that money would go to states to help fund education, road and bridge repair and more.

Jobs - Efforts to reduce methane waste from federal and tribal lands help foster a new and growing economic sector -- the businesses that develop, manufacture, and implement the technologies that increase efficiency in the oil and gas industry.

A recent study about the effects of Colorado’s methane rules on oil and gas companies asked them to discuss the impact of Colorado’s strong state methane rules – the most comprehensive in the country right now. Among the study’s findings was that Colorado’s oil and gas industry has conducted more than 1,100 site inspections at facilities over the past year and they report finding at least one methane gas leak in 9 out of 10 typical site inspections. Most of the study’s respondents said that of the more than 800 methane leaks they reported, most were small and easily fixable – 30 percent of the reported methane leaks were fixed on the spot, while another 66 percent were fixed within a few days. Although 60 percent of the oil and gas representatives in the survey reported that they were paying a little more to reduce methane leaks, 70 percent of those surveyed reported that the benefits outweighed the associated costs. They also reported associated improvements to their workers’ attention to detail and safety.

People of Faith Support the Methane Rules

Industrial methane pollution poses a significant threat to public health, fuels climate change and wastes energy resources. But there are currently no federal safeguards in place to limit the amount of methane pollution that's being emitted by the oil and gas industry. The EPA and BLM standards mean that oil and gas industry sources will be unable to simply leak millions of tons of methane pollution and toxic chemicals into our air as has been the industry standard.

Interfaith Power & Light urges members of the U.S. Congress to stand with us to support the EPA rule on new sources and the BLM rule on existing and new sources of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. Additionally, we strongly support an EPA rule on existing sources of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. As people of faith we are concerned about the devastating impacts of climate change. Reduction of methane pollution, a powerful greenhouse gas, needs to be a part of the solution. 

Please contact your senators’ and congressional representatives’ offices to tell them that you support these rules to protect our health and safety. For advice on contacting them and to find their contact information, go here.