Duke Energy, National Grid and TransCanada Pipelines are among the 41 energy companies that have agreed to voluntarily reduce their methane emissions as part of an EPA partnership program launched last week.
The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program builds upon the Natural Gas STAR Program, a voluntary partnership between the EPA and the oil and gas industry that focuses on achieving cost-effective methane emission reductions from natural gas operations. Methane emissions are about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet.
The new methane challenge will provide companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions within five years. The EPA will track the companies’ progress via annual data they will submit to the agency. Some of the initial methane reduction commitments include replacing or rehabilitating cast iron and unprotected steel distribution mains, and reducing methane emissions from pipeline blowdowns, among other activities.
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy says the voluntary partnership program will play a key role in helping the US achieve the Obama Administration’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. The EPA has also proposed new rules to limit methane emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector and said this month it will begin developing regulations to limit these releases from existing oil and gas wells.
Canada has also committed to regulate methane emissions from new oil and gas wells and reduce these emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
In announcing the two countries’ methane goals last month — part of a US-Canada climate pact — US President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the methane cuts will help both the US and Canada achieve the Paris climate deal’s emissions targets. The deal commits the world’s countries to keep a global temperature rise this century to below 2 degrees Celsius. The US will sign the Paris climate deal on Earth Day, April 22.
Don’t miss our Environmental Leader 2016 Conference in June.