EPA, DOE Plan Would Fund Methane Reduction Efforts

Oil rig at sunset

(Credit: Unsplash)

by | Feb 13, 2024

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The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy said they plan to direct funds toward the measurement and reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in the United States.

Funding, which the agencies unveiled through a notice of intent and would be made available through the Inflation Reduction Act, focuses on three areas: mitigating methane emissions from existing infrastructure, accelerating deployment of methane reduction technologies, and creating regional methane emissions measurement and monitoring consortia.

Methane is known to be the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change as it has a warming potential 28 times that of carbon emissions. It is also linked to a number of human health risks and has been found to damage crop yields.

As methane emissions continue to present a major issue for human and environmental health, the U.S. is accelerating efforts to reduce methane emissions with the Methane Emissions Reduction Program. Several fossil fuel companies committed to reducing methane leaks from their pipelines by 2030 at COP28.

Addressing methane leaks from oil- and gas-related infrastructure may dramatically reduce U.S. emissions, and many new technological innovations allow for precise identification of defects associated with fugitive emissions. Some methane-reducing tactics are comparatively simple yet offer immense benefits — closing abandoned oil and gas wells, for example, could reduce over 280,000 tons of methane from entering the atmosphere each year.

New Technologies Found to Reduce Methane Emissions

A cited goal of the potential U.S. funding is to support the transition of oil and natural gas operators to methane reduction technologies, many of which help identify specific locations of heavy emissions.

For example, robotics, artificial intelligence technologies, and other digital tools have been found to reduce methane emissions by identifying where efficiency gains may be made along pipes and other infrastructure. A methane-monitoring satellite is also soon to be launched from California and is capable of measuring methane emissions on a regional scale and pinpointing specific facilities.

“We know the adoption of cleaner and smarter ways to monitor and reduce wasteful methane emissions is critical to addressing climate change,” said Jennifer Macedonia, deputy assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Through these historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA and DOE will invest in American innovation and contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of reducing climate pollution while improving public health and protecting communities.”

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