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Energy & Environment

EPA Proposes To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Drilling Up To 45 Percent By 2025

The Obama Administration estimates implementing the rule would cost industry up to $420 million, but that lower health care costs and other savings would more than compensate.

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The EPA has proposed a new rule aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector. It's the latest in a series of proposals by the Obama Administration to combat climate change.

The rule sets a target of cutting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade, compared to 2012 emission levels. It requires energy producers to find and repair leaks at oil and gas wells, as well as capture gas that escapes from wells that use fracking technology.

"These new methane standards are just a piece of the puzzle," says Sandra Snyder, an attorney with the Washington, D.C. office of Bracewell & Giuliani and a former oil and gas engineer. She notes the EPA is also rolling out a rule aimed at cutting emissions of ozone-forming compounds by the oil and gas industry. And the Bureau of Land Management will be proposing its own rules this fall, aimed at reducing the venting and flaring of methane on federal and tribal lands.

"It's a lot hitting the oil and gas industry at once," Snyder says, "And the more equipment that they'll have to install, the more monitoring that they'll have to undertake, the more expensive that this is going to be to comply [with]."

The EPA estimates the rule would cost industry between $320 million and $420 million in 2025, but that reduced health care costs and other savings would total between $460 million and $550 million. The administration is expected to finalize the rules next year.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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