New methane safeguards will cut climate pollution and protect communities
Federal action comes as Southern utilities are pushing for a massive investment in methane gas that will worsen climate crisis
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Today the Biden Administration released a new rule, expected to be the first in a series, to control methane emissions and other harmful air pollution from fossil fuel companies.
Targeting leaks from gas and oil wells, gas pipelines, and compressor stations, the rule is intended to drive down methane emissions, a potent pollutant responsible for nearly a third of all global warming. Methane is the principal component of natural gas, a dangerous fossil fuel. The rule will also reduce emissions of other harmful air pollutants, including carcinogens like benzene, that put the health of nearby communities at risk.
This important federal action is critical in the South, which consumes the most methane gas of any region in the U.S., and where utilities are pursuing a massive build-out of new gas plants and pipelines, which would worsen the climate crisis at a time when urgent action is needed to move away from fossil fuels.
“We thank the Biden Administration for taking this critical action to drive down emissions that are intensifying the climate crisis and polluting communities. This rule will reduce dangerous pollution from aging gas wells, pipelines, and compressor stations across the South, an especially serious risk for frontline communities,” said Greg Buppert, a senior attorney who leads SELC’s work against methane gas. “But let’s be clear: methane gas is a dirty fossil fuel and using it harms the climate and human health. We need to clean up the serious problems we have now, and we can’t let Southern utilities go ahead with their gas-fired fever dreams.”
According to utility plans in SELC’s region, major utilities are planning to add nearly 30,000 megawatts of new gas-fired power plants by 2038, with TVA planning one of the largest new gas buildouts in the country — even though continued reliance on methane gas will be disastrous for the climate, and frontline communities continue to suffer health impacts from oil and gas pollution.
“Our communities are burdened by pollution, intensifying climate impacts, and unreliable power from gas,” said Buppert. “It’s well past time to stop investing in a fossil fuel that is hurting our health and risking our future.”
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