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The Biden administration’s new methane rules aim to significantly cut emissions, turbocharging U.S. climate efforts.

The Biden administration, in a decisive move to enhance climate action, unveiled rigorous standards to curtail methane emissions from oil and gas companies. Announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, these measures mark a significant step towards mitigating climate change in the U.S.

Methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, has been a major concern due to its high heat-trapping capability. The new standards, spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are designed to reduce methane emissions from the nation's top emitters: the oil and gas sectors.

Under these rules, companies are mandated to eliminate routine flaring at new wells within two years. This practice, a common method of burning off natural gas, contributes significantly to methane emissions. Additionally, the regulations require consistent monitoring for methane leaks and establish enhanced standards for equipment like controllers, pumps, and storage tanks. These components, crucial in the transportation of oil, have been identified as key sources of emissions.

Ali Zaidi, the national climate adviser for the Biden administration, emphasized the readiness of the industry to adapt to these new regulations. He pointed out the availability of the necessary tools, workforce enthusiasm, and strong incentives for tackling this challenge. Zaidi's statement underlines a shift towards a more responsible and environmentally conscious approach in the energy sector.

“These are rules of the road,” said Ali Zaidi, the Biden administration’s national climate adviser. “There is no longer an excuse to let these emissions continue to proliferate. Industry has the tools. It has the workforce that’s excited to do this work. And it has every incentive to get after this challenge.”

The EPA projects that these standards will lead to an 80% reduction in future methane emissions, exceeding previous estimates from proposals in 2021 and 2022. The rules target a wide range of existing sources and aim to mitigate other air pollutants harmful to human health. Non-compliant companies risk facing EPA enforcement actions.

A key aspect of this plan is the encouragement of technological adoption by oil and gas companies. Technologies such as aerial screening, sensor networks, and satellites are being promoted to enable faster and more efficient leak detection and repair. Zaidi highlighted the dual benefits of these technologies in terms of economic gains and environmental protection.

According to NBC News, the strategy also involves identifying "super emitter" sites by external monitoring companies. These sites, responsible for a significant portion of the sector's methane emissions, will be prioritized in emission reduction efforts. This approach is considered the most efficient and cost-effective way to meet U.S. emissions targets.

The anticipated impact of these standards is substantial. The EPA estimates a prevention of approximately 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038. This is equivalent to the impact of 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. The net benefits, considering compliance costs and savings from recovered natural gas, are projected to be between $97 billion and $98 billion over the same period.

This initiative not only promises significant environmental benefits but also offers immediate health advantages for local communities. By addressing a critical climate issue with robust and innovative solutions, the Biden administration's methane rules are poised to 'turbocharge' the U.S.'s climate action, marking a pivotal moment in the country's environmental policy.

Eunice is a sustainability writer whose passion is sharing accessible eco-friendly practices with GreenCitizen's global readership. She enjoys birdwatching during her downtime, often deriving inspiration from nature's resilience. An enthusiastic cyclist, she is also an ardent advocate of eco-friendly transport.

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