The Biden administration on Friday ramped up efforts to reduce methane emissions, targeting the oil and gas industry for its role in global warming even as President Joe Biden has pressed energy producers for more oil drilling to lower prices at the gasoline pump.
Biden announced a supplemental rule cracking down on emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming and packs a stronger short-term punch than even carbon dioxide — as he attended a global climate conference in Egypt.
“We’re racing forward to do our part to avert the ‘climate hell’ the U.N. secretary general so passionately warned about,’' Biden said, referring to comments this week by United Nations leader António Guterres.
The new methane rule will help ensure that the United States meets a goal set by more than 100 nations to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels, Biden said.
“I can ... say with confidence, the United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030,’' he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency rule follows up on a proposal Biden announced last year at a United Nations climate summit in Scotland. The 2021 rule targets emissions from existing oil and gas wells nationwide, rather than focusing only on new wells as previous EPA regulations have done.
The new rule goes a step further and takes aim at all drilling sites, including smaller wells that now will be required to find and plug methane leaks. Small wells currently are subject to an initial inspection but are rarely checked again for leaks.
The proposal also requires operators to respond to credible third-party reports of high-volume methane leaks.