Saturday, March 29, 2014

US plans to cut Methane emissions


The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.
The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.
In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.

Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:
■ The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.
■ In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the federal government.

■ In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.
Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.
“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”

(A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A12 of the New York edition)

15 comments:

Nick Sollogub said...

I am a carnivore at heart. Although the more I learn about the cattle industry the more it turns me off to the industry. Feeding cattle takes up substantial amounts of crops that are grown. It is inefficient and a waste. This article speaks about methane from the cows being a huge contributor to the greenhouse gases in our environment. Voluntary options have been given but as we all know most people will not act unless it is mandatory. In the mean time I have no desire to not be a carnivore. What is my solution you may ask. Go hunting. Secure your own meat. Let the animals live a healthy and natural life, and give it a respectable and clean death that they would not receive in a slaughterhouse. Then you have the meat, morally it feels better and tastes better as well. Then there is no more need to the cattle industry, and there is no need to worry about methane levels.

Cynthia Romero said...

I'm glad the government is taking our environment serious and making these changes. I hope they do reach their goal by 2020. This will need serious cooperation from people. Why not cut down on the amount of dairy farms? or even better, cut down on the meat industry. This is always the case, small businesses are always so regulated and they dont even do the real damage. Just like with fishing. Your average fisherman has all these laws to abide by and all these limits and what not, yet the big fishing companies can do whatever they want. It really is getting ridiculous and exhausting.

Kira Knight said...

This is a refreshing article to read. It's definitely nice to see the government taking an interest in our environment and ways to help it thrive. What's even nicer to see, are the actions the president is starting to take in order to counteract the environmental problems we are facing. There are many methods that can be tried to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and I'm glad these options are finally being explored on a serious level. I think if we had less oil drilling sites and used our resources more conservatively, we could easily reduce methane emissions.

Melis Temelli said...

Decreasing methane emission is one of the steps to be taken by the Democrat Obama Administration to struggle against climate change, although Republicans do not support such moves but see them as steps to slow down economic growth. The move is positive in terms of coping with global warming and climate change for the U.S. is the country with the largest emissions of gases per capita leading to global warming. Secondly, this move by the U.S. will show other Western industrialized countries that their strongest ally is dedicated to move against climate change and global warming. It depends on the future governments of the U.S. to reach it plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% until 2020, but it sill be more difficult for any administration to come after Obama Administration to reject such policies given the steps already taken by Obama so far. However, these steps will not be easy even during Obama's administration due to two reasons: Firstly, Obama cannot get the decisions through Senate for he does not have majority there, this is why he had many difficulties in preparing the budget plan for U.S. recently; and Republicans do not support struggling against greenhouse effects. Secondly, such steps will affect certain people, for instance if further steps are taken to tax cattle owners regarding methane gas emissions, they will get organized and stand against Obama for sure.

Anonymous said...

While it is nice to hear that our government is deciding to do something, and is taking at least a look into helping the environment (which is a step), I don't feel as if it is a serious enough step. Cutting methane levels cannot stand to be "voluntary" at least not for long. Some one needs to be the big person and limit industries in what they can do. The industry will not totally go away, and if it does, it wont be soon. We need to deal with what we have now, which is a disaster waiting to happen unless someone is able to limit what these companies do. I do believe there will be slow transitions between cutting these industries, however, so I do still think that this is a step in the right direction, it's just a very small step.

Anonymous said...

^The previous comment was by Leanna Molnar^

Apoorva said...

It is satisfying to know that the country which is known as the biggest consumer market in the world is taking initiatives to help the environment and bring down pollution gas levels. It's also pleasing to see that the environment is already improving.
On the issue of greenhouse gases,the levels of methane can be brought down by a lot other means.Its very important to know that methane gas is a lot more potent than other gases. The fact that the government recognizes this issue is a major advantage for the environmental status of this country. If we used less computers and using more natural products, we could help decrease the methane levels.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, one of the most important things needed to help our environment is government involvement. After reading this article, I am some what hopeful that the government administration will step in to set limits on methane emissions, however, I will believe it when I see it! I feel like, in the past, the government has promised many things and has ultimately never delivered. This probably has to do with the companies that benefit from chemical emissions, such as methane. What are farmers going to do when they can no longer farm their cattle because the government says we need to reduce methane emissions? Well they certainly won't go down with out a fight! Until everyone realizes that chemicals like methane will ultimately destroy our environment and we all must help to reduce our emissions, regulations are going to be extremely hard to implement.

-Kaylee Looper

Gina May said...

I’m pleased to see that the United States is becoming a little bit more serious about tackling the issue of global warming. However it makes me a bit weary to read that the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle would be voluntary. I think if they really wanted to make somewhat of an impact and regulate greenhouse gases they would not be proposing “voluntary” regulations. I mean seriously, imagine if our taxes were voluntary. Would anyone really pay them? No, of course not! I think fossil fuel companies, farmers, etc. either need to be forced to limit and have their emissions strictly regulated or the government needs to give them an incentive to do so on there on. Because frankly, I just don’t think we will see any major changes with voluntary proposals. People are always going to do what they think will benefit them the most at that present moment; they will rarely look into the future to make rational decisions.

Dylan Hirsch said...

The government's attempt to cut methane emissions is a big deal because of the potency of methane as a green house gas. It would be substantial in the US's attempt to curve our pollution of the atmosphere. Also, it this article sheds like on the border line immoralities of the meet industry, and its place in our society. Very interesting read, and I hope that the US does more to protect the atmosphere then just this current legistlaiton.

Anonymous said...

Methane is so potent that it has such a dramatic effect on the environment. I'm glad to see that our government is taking the initiative and making regulations to combat this problem. Although this effort is not going to change anything overnight, it is a step in the right direction and if it gets other politicians to take the environmental movement and climate change more seriously I am all for it. There needs to be a collective decision to stop the destructive behavior we've exhibited for so long. We have the studies and facts to show how humans have impacted the earth with pollution, we need to utilize them and make a change.

-Haylei P.

oakleyses said...

tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet online, nike air max, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet online, nike free, louis vuitton handbags, nike shoes, louis vuitton outlet online, kate spade outlet online, michael kors outlet online, tiffany jewelry, christian louboutin shoes, kate spade handbags, ray ban outlet, burberry outlet online, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online, burberry outlet online, coach purses, christian louboutin outlet, coach outlet, nike air max, longchamp outlet, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren, louboutin shoes, prada outlet, oakley vault, coach outlet store online, ray ban sunglasses, jordan shoes, coach outlet, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet store, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton outlet, red bottom shoes, chanel handbags, prada handbags, louis vuitton outlet

oakleyses said...

guess pas cher, oakley pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, north face, nike roshe run, nike air force, scarpe hogan, nike air max, ralph lauren pas cher, ray ban uk, lacoste pas cher, louis vuitton uk, hollister, louis vuitton, nike free pas cher, timberland, michael kors canada, chaussure louboutin, air max pas cher, true religion, michael kors uk, vans pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, nike free, sac michael kors, true religion outlet, lululemon, nike air max, ralph lauren, mulberry, air max, sac vanessa bruno, tn pas cher, converse pas cher, longchamp pas cher, true religion outlet, air jordan, hollister, hermes pas cher, north face pas cher, sac louis vuitton, ray ban pas cher, burberry pas cher, longchamp

oakleyses said...

nike trainers, lululemon outlet, instyler ionic styler, uggs outlet, giuseppe zanotti, mont blanc pens, longchamp, nike huarache, abercrombie and fitch, new balance outlet, marc jacobs outlet, ugg, vans outlet, barbour, nfl jerseys, hollister, chi flat iron, bottega veneta, beats headphones, ugg outlet, north face outlet, ghd, p90x workout, soccer shoes, reebok shoes, uggs on sale, north face jackets, jimmy choo shoes, babyliss pro, soccer jerseys, roshe run, wedding dresses, abercrombie and fitch, herve leger, ferragamo shoes, valentino shoes, asics shoes, birkin bag, nike roshe, mac cosmetics, insanity workout, ugg soldes, rolex watches, mcm handbags, celine handbags

oakleyses said...

timberland shoes, hollister clothing, converse shoes, karen millen, moncler, louboutin, juicy couture outlet, air max, ray ban, wedding dress, moncler, parajumpers outlet, canada goose uk, hollister, montre femme, supra shoes, converse, canada goose, toms outlet, canada goose outlet, gucci, canada goose pas cher, coach outlet, nike air max, iphone 6 case, canada goose outlet, canada goose, vans, canada goose outlet, oakley, moncler, moncler, ugg, lancel, ralph lauren, hollister canada, baseball bats, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton canada, moncler, replica watches, canada goose, moncler outlet, moncler, ugg boots, uggs canada