While the Obama Administration has thus far focused on reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change, pressure has been mounting to do something about methane pollution. Although methane accounts for only nine percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, it’s over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to short term global warming impact. So on Friday, the White House announced a strategy to cut the nation’s methane emissions.

The statistics on methane are alarming – a recent report finds that U.S. natural gas systems leak 50 percent more methane than previously thought. As part of the White House’s methane strategy, this spring the Environmental Protection Agency will look into methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Then in the fall it will determine how best to deal with the problem, with potential new regulations taking effect in 2016.

Related: U.S. Gas Flaring Emissions Equivalent to One Million Additional Cars on the Road

Of particular concern is the practice of gas flaring, which emits methane into the atmosphere. A report last year found that the U.S. fracking industry wasted approximately $1 billion in North Dakota alone through the practice of gas flaring. The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce methane gas flaring on public lands.

Related: Cattle are the World’s Top Greenhouse Gas Emitters Among Livestock, Study Finds

Other steps include a program to capture and sell methane produced from coal mines, updated standards to reduce methane emissions from new landfills and potentially existing landfills, and releasing a “biogas roadmap” targeted at speeding up the adoption of “methane digesters — machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle.” According to the EPA, in 2012 cow flatulence passed the natural gas industry as the biggest source of U.S. methane gas emissions.

Via NY Times

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