Barack Obama’s new plan for cutting methane emissions will fall short, according to critics, because it won’t require oil and gas companies to repair existing leaky equipment. Instead, the new regulations will only apply to future infrastructure. Some are saying this is tantamount to ignoring 90 percent of methane emissions from the industry.
The details of the plan, announced this week, reveal that regulations will not require companies to repair the thousands of sites that are currently leaking methane. Instead, the methane emissions guidelines will only apply to future infrastructure. Existing fracking sites and old pipelines will be allowed to continue operating, with methane emissions above and beyond the limits of the new regulations.
Still, the White House says Obama’s strategy for controlling future methane emissions marks progress toward the goal of cutting methane by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade. Methane is just part of the administration’s larger climate plan.
Nobody is really arguing that restrictions shouldn’t be placed on future oil and gas sites, but ignoring the existing sources of emissions is a big miss. “Failing to immediately regulate existing oil and gas equipment nationwide misses 90 percent of the methane pollution from the industry,” Conrad Schneider of the Clean Air Task Force said in a statement. Leaving a loophole like this leaves the impression that the Obama administration may not be as tough in the fight against climate change as they would like people to believe.
White House officials made it clear, however, that this action is not the end of the regulations for methane emissions. These new rules, to be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are just the first step. Dan Utech, White House spokesperson, noted that methane emissions are projected to rise 25 percent over the next 10 years. “That is where the increases in emissions are coming from,” Utech said. “What additional steps are appropriate will become more clear over time.”
And so, we wait.
Via The Guardian