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Democrats are urging the EPA to tighten restrictions on gas flaring to curb methane

by SuperiorInvest

Gas eruption near Williston, North Dakota.

Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Democrats in Congress this week urged the Environmental Projection Agency to strengthen its proposal to regulate planet-warming methane emissions from the nation’s oil and gas sector.

In a letter led by Sen. Martin Heinrich, NM and Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado, and signed by a total of 76 lawmakers, said the agency’s proposal must tighten restrictions on routine gas flaring or the process of burning excess natural gas. at the oil well.

The letter was released shortly after the head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that oil and gas companies they don’t make enough effort to limit methane emissions and are undermining a global agreement to reduce methane pollution by 30% by the end of the decade.

Methane, a key component of natural gas, is 84 times more effective than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere, but it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere long enough to break down. Scientists warned that methane production must be curbed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

AND a recent study published in the journal Science suggested that burning oil fields releases nearly five times more methane than previously thought. This process often does not completely burn the methane, and in some cases the flares are extinguished and not re-ignited, causing the methane to be released into the atmosphere.

“While the amendment takes some important steps to reduce pollution caused by routine gas flaring in oil wells, stronger safeguards against this harmful practice are essential to reducing pollution and protecting health,” Democrats said. he wrote in a letter.

The lawmakers noted that alternatives to incineration are readily available, adding that states such as Alaska, Colorado and New Mexico already have policies in place to mitigate incineration pollution. They also recommended that EPA update the rule to clarify and define when flares can occur during emergencies and maintenance.

“EPA must build on the leadership of these states and ban routine ignition except for safety emergencies and maintenance reasons,” they wrote. “Additional explanation and definitions regarding each of these exemptions should also be provided.”

Last November, during the UN climate change conference known as COP27, the EPA released an updated proposal to regulate methane from the oil and gas industry. The rule is the first time the federal government would require existing production facilities to target and repair methane leaks.

The agency said the updated rule would reduce methane emissions from oil and mining by 87% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

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