FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2020
Contact: Kelly Rimar, kelly@stgresults.com

Leading Public Health, Environmental Groups Urge Biden-Harris Administration to Immediately Implement Stronger Federal Safeguards to Cut Methane Pollution from the Oil and Gas Sector

43 groups push incoming administration to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas sector by 65 percent by 2025 as a part of their strategy to proactively tackle the climate crisis, protect public health

Washington, DC -- Today, in a letter to the incoming Biden-Harris administration, 43 environmental, public health, and community advocacy organizations are urging the incoming administration to take steps to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas sector by 65 percent by 2025, calling methane pollution from the oil and gas industry a "far greater threat than previously thought.”

The letter follows a new report from the World Meteorological Organization which shows that global methane levels are at a record high, and warns that methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is driving the climate crisis and threatening the health and safety of communities across the country.

"A quarter of the global warming we're experiencing is caused by methane emissions, and the emissions from the oil and gas industry are at least 60 percent higher than previously measured. In fact, the annual methane emissions from this sector have a near-term global warming impact equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of the nation’s entire car and light-duty truck fleet (using the 20-year global warming potential of methane). This makes methane emissions from oil and gas drilling a far greater threat than previously thought, and reducing emissions an even more important opportunity."

In August, against the advice of climate scientists, public health experts, community leaders and the opposition of major oil and gas companies, the Trump administration finalized its proposal to eliminate direct regulation of methane in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Source Performance Standards — protections enacted under the Obama administration to curb methane pollution, and slow the pace of climate change.

The problem of methane pollution is accelerating. Each year, oil and gas facilities leak nearly thirteen million tons of methane into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide and a major driver of climate change. Other pollution, which is released alongside methane, such as benzene, can worsen asthma and affects lung development in children, and increase the risk of cancer, cause immune system damage, and neurological, reproductive, and developmental problems.

The EPA’s methane standards for new and modified oil and gas sites finalized in 2016, limited emissions at more than 70,000 wells. These standards prevented more than 300 million metric tons of CO2 emissions between 2016 and 2019. The Trump administration's rollback of these standards gave oil and gas companies a greenlight to pollute without oversight and directly threatened the health and well-being of one in three people in the U.S. who lives in a county with oil and gas production.

In order to tackle methane pollution and confront the climate crisis, the incoming administration must immediately undo the Trump administration's rollback of federal methane safeguards, and enact bold new measures to cut methane and hold polluters accountable.

While some in the oil and gas industry have made voluntary commitments to curb methane waste and pollution at their sites, the letter sent to the incoming Biden-Harris administration argues that such measures fall far short of the bold action needed to cut methane pollution, and are no substitute for federal safeguards.

Despite the dire warnings issued in the letter, the signatories remain optimistic and eager to work with the incoming administration to curb methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.

The letter is signed by the following organizations:

  • 350 Santa Fe
  • Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
  • Beaver County Marcellus Awareness (BCMAC)
  • Better Path Coalition
  • CAVU
  • Center for Civic Policy
  • Clean Air Council
  • Clean Air Task Force
  • Climate Reality Project
  • Conservation Voters New Mexico
  • Dakota Resource Council
  • Devil's Spring Ranch
  • Earthworks
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Friends of the Earth United States
  • Green America
  • GreenLatinos
  • Interfaith Power & Light
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Lebanon Pipeline Awareness
  • Moms Clean Air Force
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • New Mexico Environmental Law Center
  • New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light
  • New Mexico Sportsmen
  • Oxfam America
  • Powder River Basin Resource Council
  • Project CoffeeHouse
  • Quittapahilla Watershed Association
  • Responsible Drilling Alliance (RDA)
  • Rio Grande Indivisible - NM
  • Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
  • Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce
  • Sierra Club
  • The Evangelical Environmental Network
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • UUJusticePA
  • Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc.
  • Western Colorado Alliance
  • Western Organization of Resource Councils
  • Young Evangelicals for Climate Action