AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Environmental Protection Agency finalized Saturday a rule that it says will sharply reduce the amount of methane and other harmful air pollutants emitted by the oil and natural gas industry.
The EPA said the new rule promotes the latest cost-effective and innovative technologies that will prevent an estimated 58 million metric tons of methane emissions over the next 15 years. The organization said in the year 2030 alone, the expected reduction will be equal to 130 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is more than the annual emissions from 28 million gasoline cars.
Methane is considered a climate “super pollutant,” as it is more potent than carbon dioxide and contributes to about one third of the warming from greenhouse gases. The EPA said cutting back methane emission is “critical” to slowing the rate of climate change.
Some Texas organizations said after the EPA announcement Saturday that the finalized rule is “a major win for the climate and public health in Texas,” according to a Sierra Club press release.
“We know that Texas state agencies have ignored the problem of methane from the oil and gas industry for decades,” said Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter’s Conservation Director Cyrus Reed.
The Sierra Club says Texas is the state that produces the most oil and gas and emits twice as much methane than New Mexico, which has state-level regulations for air pollution.
The EPA said that among other things the new rule will phase in a new requirement to stop routine flaring of natural gas; require well sites and compressor stations to have comprehensive monitoring for methane leaks; and establish a new standard that will enforce reduction in emissions from high-emitting equipment.
“The finalization of the EPA’s methane rule can make a real difference for frontline communities in Texas facing pollution, and for our climate, and we appreciate the efforts of the Biden Administration to finally require the oil and gas industry to deal with this massive air pollution. We will legally fight any attempt to roll back this important rule and insist that the state of Texas implement it as soon as possible,” Reed said.