In an effort to track climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to require oil and gas operators to improve how methane leaks are measured, reports Pennsylvania StateImpact, a reporting project of National Public Radio member stations.
Carbon dioxide has long been the target in the fight against global warming, but methane is more harmful in the short-term. As drilling for oil and gas continues across the nation, more methane is escaping into the atmosphere. Speaking to a room full of students at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that fracking operations don’t need to intensify global warming.
McCarthy said, “It’s about using some tremendously creative new technologies that actually allow us to remotely look at all this work that is going on across the U.S. and figure out where those leaks are, where those releases are, and how best to change our operations to get at a significant source of carbon pollution.”
Speaking at the Wharton Energy Conference, McCarthy pushed for support of Obama’s climate change action plan, saying the new rules would permit the EPA to evaluate how much methane is released from oil and gas well sites. She said, “This is about best management practices, this is about proper construction of a well.”
Groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), however, argue that the EPA hasn’t done enough and should work to plug the leaks. Senior attorney for the EDF, Peter Zalzal, said in a release that “these important reporting requirements are not a substitute for action to reduce emissions,” adding, “It is critical that the EPA move ahead with commonsense clean air measures to reduce methane emissions from the nation’s largest industrial source and to protect the health of our communities.”
According to the EDF, methane is over 80 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide in the short term. With new methane rules, effective carbon reduction can happen quickly.
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