EPA announces new methane rule

August 31, 2015

On August 18, as yet another move in its battle to fight climate change, the Obama administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first ever federal regulations cutting methane emissions. 

Holding a conference call with a large group of reporters, Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, claimed that the rules were designed to make sure that oil and gas companies actually reduced waste and sold more fuel that would otherwise be thrown away, all while protecting the climate and the public health.

McCabe says that the cost of meeting the standards across the entire industry would be in the range of $420 million. However, by reducing waste, she claims that the industry would be able to save as much as $550 million, meaning that the policy could very well bring a net profit of over $100 million.

Despite these alleged savings, not everyone is on board with the new policy. Republican Representative Lamar Smith from Texas is a vocal critic of the EPA, and went as far as to call the new proposals yet another step in the Obama administration's and the federal agency's "war on American energy jobs." In a written statement, he added that "The E.P.A.'s own data shows that methane emissions in the United States decreased by almost 15 percent between 1990 and 2013, yet E.P.A. is forging ahead."

Several new studies however, suggest that this data is wrong, and that methane estimates of the oil and gas industry may be significantly underestimating the actual levels. As part of its new plan, the EPA has proposed establishing improved monitoring systems.

Because of how rapidly they can change, staying on top of and following EPA regulations and policies can be difficult and time consuming. Hiring environmental consultants can help you better understand the latest government trends and regulations, and find quick, cost effective ways to meet them.