Biden admin's methane emission curbs to exceed Obama's: EPA chief
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[April 10, 2021]
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden
administrationís curbs on methane from the U.S. oil and gas industry
will be more ambitious than those imposed by former President Barack
Obama and will go a long way to helping the United States achieve its
overall targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade,
the nationís top environmental regulator told Reuters.
The comments provide a sense of President Joe Bidenís ambition to limit
output of the powerful greenhouse as it drafts new rules for release
later this year. Ex-President Donald Trump had scrapped Obama-era rules
requiring oil and gas companies cut the sector's methane emissions 45%
below 2012 levels by 2025.
"There's lot of room to be more ambitious because the markets have
evolved, the technology has evolved and companies now understand the
urgency and are more willing to discuss that today than they were
previously," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan
said in an interview late Thursday.
Oil industry group American Petroleum Institute, who had lobbied heavily
to stop the Obama administration from regulating methane, earlier this
year said it supports regulation as public support for climate measures
He said he expects reductions in U.S. methane emissions to account for a
"significant piece of the pie" in terms of the total greenhouse gas
emissions that the Biden administration intends to cut by 2030. The
administration has said it will unveil its 2030 targets under the
international Paris Agreement to fight climate change on or before April
"We're laser focused on methane and how we limit methane emissions from
natural gas operations nationwide," he said.
Methane accounts for some 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with
most of it coming from the energy industry in the form of leaks from
pipelines and other infrastructure or deliberate venting or flaring.
NOAA released a report earlier this week showing a surge in methane
concentrations last year in spite of the pandemic.
The other top sources are agriculture and waste management, according to
the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
[to top of second column]
Michael Regan testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on Capitol Hill in
Washington, U.S., February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Brandon Bell/Pool/File
Biden has said he wants the United States to reach net-zero
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a sweeping transformation
of the economy, an about-face from Trump who downplayed global
warming and sought to slash regulatory red tape that hindered fossil
As part of Biden's plan, the EPA also plans to release new vehicle
emission standards by July, and impose tougher limits on carbon
emissions from power plants. Transport and power are the leading
U.S. sources of greenhouse gases.
Regan, formerly North Carolina's top environmental regulator and now
the first African American man to lead the EPA, said the agency will
also toughen enforcement of clean air and water regulations as part
of a new focus on ensuring minority and low-income communities are
not overburdened by pollution.
"We're looking at ways to obtain early relief for these affected
communities such ordering monitoring or transparency measures or
looking at ways we can obtain restitution for victims of
environmental infractions," he said, adding he hopes to increase
enforcement staff and monitoring technology to do site inspections.
Last month, the EPA revoked an expansion permit for the Limetree Bay
oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands, citing concerns about
Regan did not say whether other facilities will face a similar fate
but said delivering environmental justice will be "within the very
DNA" of the agency and will guide rulemakings and grant decisions,
as well as contracting and procurement.
The administrator also said he will prioritize replacing lead pipes
and upgrading the nation's water infrastructure.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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