Time to Return to Sensible Methane Policy

Industry, Environmental Groups Support Congressional Review Act Resolution

Methane is a powerful climate pollutant. It is more than 80 times more potent as a climate forcer than carbon dioxide and it is responsible for about one quarter of the climate impacts we are experiencing today. Methane is also the primary ingredient of natural gas. When it is kept in pipelines and used as a fuel, it is an important domestic energy resource.

But when it is allowed to leak into the atmosphere, it is a wasted resource and a threat to global climate.

That is why several states, such as Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have moved ahead with regulations that require oil and gas operators to inspect their equipment regularly and fix leaks quickly when they find them. In 2016, the EPA adopted methane rules modeled after those of leading states and the oil and gas industry was making good progress toward tackling its methane problem. 

But in 2020, the Trump EPA reversed course and, over the objections even of many leading oil and gas companies, wrote methane out of the federal air quality rules. The move was widely criticized for jeopardizing the reputation of American-produced natural gas and for undermining the booming methane mitigation industry.

Fortunately, Congress is acting to get methane regulation back on track. In March, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado and more than thirty of their colleagues invoked the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to restore commonsense rules that cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The legislation (S.J.Res 14 and H.J.Res. 34) will clear the decks for EPA to get to work to craft next-generation methane standards that will deploy America’s methane mitigation industry to help solve the climate crisis.

Restoring sensible methane policy means more jobs in the methane mitigation industry, whether we are talking about hardhats in the field fixing leaks or PhDs developing the latest technologies. CMES represents the interests of American businesses that develop and manufacture cutting edge technologies, install commercial technologies and aid inspectors on the job to significantly cut methane waste on a cost-effective basis across the oil and gas supply chain. In fact, the methane mitigation industry boasts more than 100 manufacturing firms, more than 200 service firms, and more than 700 employee locations nationwide according to an upcoming Datu Research report. Nearly two-thirds of these companies are small businesses. CMES has been consistent in our support for strong federal methane regulations.

Methane rules are a win-win-win for our economy, our climate, and our energy security. That is why there has been a groundswell of support from for the CRA and restoring methane rules including ShellBPEquinorEQTTotalJonah Energy, Cheniere, Equitrans Midstream, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Others in industry including, XTO/ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute, and Pioneer have gone on record in support of federal methane regulations, and both state trade associations and independent operators have backed methane regulation at the state level.

It is time to get sensible methane policy back on track and the Congressional Review Act is the right tool for the job. Congress needs to pass S.J.Res. 14 and H.J.Res 34 and signal to the world that the United States is serious about cutting waste and climate pollution from the oil and gas supply chain.