(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Animated GIF shows the global temperature “spiraling upward” since the advent of the Industrial Age.
Today the Environmental Protection Agency is issuing its long-anticipated methane rules to crack down on oil and gas activity leaking copious amounts of this super-potent greenhouse gas.
U.S. News & World Report’s article notes that this is an historic accomplishment in the Obama administration’s fight to address the looming climate catastrophe.
The first federal rules specifically limiting methane emissions from oil and natural gas sites are expected to be finalized Thursday by the Obama administration.
The regulations would require oil and gas companies to improve how they detect and plug leaks at new and modified wells, pipelines, compressor stations and other industrial sites.
The subscription-based news service ClimateWire has a more detailed story up today:
The Obama administration today is finalizing a suite of regulations targeting emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds from new oil and gas industry operations, according to multiple sources.
U.S. EPA’s final rules are a key part of the Obama administration’s goal of lowering methane emissions from the oil and gas industry between 40 and 45 percent by 2025 compared with 2012 levels. The rules also represent the first time that EPA has directly regulated methane from a source.
Environmentalists believe that reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is a key part of addressing climate change.
“The Obama administration’s new national standard to cut methane pollution from oil and gas facilities is an important step to protect our climate and the health of nearby communities,” said environmental watchdog Earthworks’ policy director, Lauren Pagel, in a statement last night.
Methane, according to EPA, is a greenhouse gas that’s more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. EPA’s recent inventory of greenhouse gases found that the oil and gas sector was the No. 1 source of methane emissions in the United States in 2014.
The oil and gas industry, never having ever seen a regulation of which it approves – despite how quickly its PR teams embrace them after they are implemented as indication how much it truly cares about not cooking the planet, or poisoning water supplies, or upsetting neighbors with noise, fumes, fugitive dust, flaring and spills—opposes the new rules.
Methane leakage from oil and gas fields is a major source of this pollutant, a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and human-caused climate change.
Indeed, in Colorado we already have methane capture rules in place, which industry has admitted they can comply with without much cost or trouble; but those too were fought by trade associations that, just a few short years ago, predicted mass calamity should oil and gas drillers be required to clean up their act.
Methane, as the articles note above, is a major contributor to the reality of human-driven climate change now threatening all aspects of our planet’s systems—from the spread of deadly disease, to declining ocean health, to the threat of massive wildfire in drying forests especially across the northern tier, even to the unravelling of the very Web of Life.
2015 was the hottest year on record. 2016 is on pace to break it.
The Obama administration has pledged to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas, both with this rule making and with another underway in the Interior Department to prevent methane leakage from energy development on public lands.
It has also put in place the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever federal effort to limit carbon pollution from power plants, with which Colorado is moving forward despite a temporary stay on the federal implementation of the plan. That impasse led to one of several petulant parlays by Colorado Senate Republicans – which thankfully failed. The United States also helped lead the effort to complete the Paris Accords, an international agreement to limit temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.
As we head into the political season it is not only our planetary home heating up. The rhetoric will also be topping the charts. Elections matter.
Like the GOP foes he vanquished in becoming the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump denies the established science supporting the reality of human-driven climate change.
And while there may be many accurate charges to level that the Obama administration is taking one step back for each step-and-a-half it takes forward, that it waited so late to get started on these important rule-makings, that these efforts are but half-measures when we need to be doubling down on ending our fossil fuel addiction if we are serious about addressing this global crisis.
Make no mistake that the consequences of our selections this fall matter in a real and tangible way. One major party alone – almost in all the world – still denies the science that shows us the nature and veracity of this threat.
If you care about your future, and that of those who are coming up into it, weigh your vote carefully. If you support climate action, then support these rule-makings even if you also demand that the time to Act on Climate is past due, and that these are but tepid steps toward a sustainable world. They are steps forward all the same, and we cannot afford to take even one step back at this critical moment.