Letter to President-Elect to Joe Biden - Feinstein, Heinrich, Colleagues Call for Strengthened Regulations of Methane Emissions from Oil, Natural Gas Production
Dear President-Elect Biden:
We write respectfully to request that your administration swiftly act to restore and strengthen regulations of methane emissions from oil and natural gas production. The Trump administration's recent rollbacks of previously existing standards have been a disaster for the climate, public health, and environmental justice, and are economically unnecessary, rejected by the very industry they purport to serve. We also urge your administration to mount a vigorous defense of the Bureau of Land Management's 2016 regulations to reduce emissions that waste natural gas associated with production on federal and tribal lands.
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas--causing 84 times the global warming of an equal quantity of carbon dioxide over two decades after emission--and the oil and gas industry is the largest emitter of methane in the United States. Despite recent data showing large increases in methane emissions from oil and gas production in recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump administration last year completed a rollback of critical methane emissions regulations created during the Obama administration. The EPA's amendments to the Obama-era New Source Performance Standards weaken and in some cases eliminate altogether requirements that oil and natural gas companies limit methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from their operations. To counter the harmful effects of these rollbacks and address the climate crisis, strengthened new source standards, and the extension of regulations to include existing sources, must be implemented as soon as possible.
The Trump methane regulatory regime amounts to a new subsidy for the oil and gas industry at the expense of the climate and public health. About 25% of human-caused global warming to date can be attributed to methane emissions, and co-located methane and VOC emissions exacerbate the already large air quality and human health impacts of fossil fuel development on frontline communities. With the climate crisis accelerating, it is the wrong time to let oil and gas producers off the hook for methane emissions. The industry itself acknowledges as much, with many of its leaders voicing opposition to the Trump-era rules.
Taking swift action to reinstate and strengthen responsible methane regulations on the oil and gas industry, along with measures to reduce waste on our nation's public lands, would be a powerful early step in your administration's work to meet the threat of climate change. We look forward to addressing the climate crisis alongside the Biden-Harris administration and urge you to make strengthened methane rules for oil and gas production an early priority.