President Releases Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 9:21 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Last year, President Barack Obama outlined his case for action on climate change and the steps that needed to be taken in order to combat global climate change. Part of Obama's Climate Action Plan directed his Administration to develop a strategy to cut methane emissions

Earlier this week, President Obama's Administration released the Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions. 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.

“The Interagency Methane Strategy is a critical part of the President’s Climate Action Plan and the Department of Energy will play an integral, active part of these efforts," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. "The Department is already engaged in several efforts to help reduce methane emissions from energy systems, in the U.S. and internationally."

Key steps of the strategy include:

  • Landfills: In the summer of 2014, the EPA will propose updated standards to reduce methane from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.
  • Coal Mines: In April 2014, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management will release an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to gather public input on the development of a program for the capture and sale, or disposal of waste mine methane on lands leased by the Federal government.
  • Agriculture: In June, in partnership with the dairy industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy will jointly release a “Biogas Roadmap” outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
  • Oil and Gas: Building on success in reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector through voluntary programs and targeted regulations, the Administration will take new actions to encourage additional cost-effective reductions.

“As noted in the Strategy, the Department will continue to conduct research and analysis to help improve our ability to measure methane emissions and advance technologies and practices that will enable cost-effective emissions reductions. We will also continue our work with National Labs and other federal agencies to help advance sound policy solutions, including through technical assistance to state governments, many of which are actively working to reduce emissions and encourage broader adoption of mitigation strategies," continued Secretary Moniz. "We recently hosted the first of several roundtable discussions with industry, state governments, labor, and other stakeholders to help accelerate the adoption of best practices to reduce methane emissions from natural gas systems, including processing, transmission and storage, and distribution. The Department looks forward to expanding our stakeholder discussions, collaborating with the other participating agencies and continuing our work on this important issue.”

"Across the country, farmers and ranchers are taking action to protect natural resources, and the Administration's Methane Reduction Strategy provides additional voluntary actions producers can take to cut methane emissions," said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "USDA will help producers implement these strategies, including methane capture technologies like anaerobic digesters and biogas systems, which create jobs and allow producers to tap into a $3 billion market for renewable energy. Since 2009, USDA has provided $62 million in support for 93 methane digester projects across the United States."

"The voluntary strategies outlined today expand USDA's efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. USDA's Climate Hubs conduct critical research to deliver practical tools and information to help farmers and ranchers," Vilsack continued. "USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency have also challenged every American to do their part to reduce food thrown away at home to cut the amount of food waste in landfills producing greenhouse gases."

The strategy has already received support from several national organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Methane is a potent heat-trapping pollutant, and we've long understood the urgency and importance of controlling it as a way to slow dangerous climate change," said David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program. "Curbing methane emissions is a key element in President Obama's Climate Action Plan and today's announcement is a big step in the right direction. Curbing methane also will help reduce other toxic pollutants associated with oil and gas development and other industries. But more needs to be done, and we look forward to working with the Obama Administration to establish effective methane leakage standards."

The Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions is available online on the White House's website.

SOURCE: Sustainable City Network

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