White House launches drive to cut methane emissions

NEWS: New strategy could reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 1% by 2020, says White House

Source: Flickr/Daniel Foster

Source: Flickr/Daniel Foster

By Ed King

The White House has launched a new methane reduction strategy it says will help cut US greenhouse gas emissions 1% by the end of the decade.

The plans target landfills, coal mines, agriculture and the oil and gas industry, which are all high emitters of methane, one of the world’s most potent climate warming gases.

Methane accounts for about 9% of US emissions, with 30% coming from fossil fuel extraction and 23% from cows and othert farm animals.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over a 100-year period its impact is 20 times greater ‘pound for pound’ than carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

“The strategy summarizes the sources of methane emissions, commits to new steps to cut emissions of this potent greenhouse gas, and outlines the Administration’s efforts to improve the measurement of these emissions,” Dan Utech, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, says in a blog.

The plans could deliver greenhouse gas emissions reductions up to 90 million metric tons in 2020, says the report.

To put that in context, in 2012 total US emissions were 6,501.5 million metric tonnes.

The EPA already has a series of voluntary programmes aimed at encouraging industries and individuals to reduce their methane emissions.

The new plan says regulations for ‘waste mine methane’ are to be discussed in April, a biogas ‘roadmap’ will be launched in June, and new standards for landfills will be announced later in the summer.

The EPA will assess methane leakages from the oil and gas sectors in the spring, with a view to “completing” any regulations by 2016.

The proposals form part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, released last June, which aims to ensure the US meets its international obligations of cutting emissions 17% on 2005 levels by 2020.

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