The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the final version of a “first-ever” set of federal regulations intended to curb emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released during the hydraulic fracking process.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been the victim of water or air contamination caused by hydraulic fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
What’s the Problem?
May 13, 2016 – EPA said the new regulations (PDF) are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to live up to the president’s vow to reduce methane emissions by 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025.
“The methane rule is the final version of a draft regulation put forth last year by the Environmental Protection Agency,” according to the New York Times, “and would require oil and gas companies to plug and capture leaks of methane from new and modified drilling wells and storage tanks, not older, existing wells.”
Up until now, methane emissions have been unregulated by the federal government, according to EcoWatch. This is especially troubling considering America’s increasing reliance on natural gas to produce electricity, which has resulted in skyrocketing methane levels in the air and water.
Methane emissions are still far lower than carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and methane dissipates in the environment after a relatively short period of time. However, methane traps heat much more effectively than CO2, which makes it a significant threat to climate change.
“When unburned methane leaks into the atmosphere, it can help cause dramatic warming in a relatively short period of time,” according to Mother Jones. “The natural gas system produces methane emissions at nearly every step of the process, from the well itself to the pipe that carries gas into your home.”
The lack of methane regulations is one of the main reasons why some environmental groups have frowned on Obama’s climate strategy. The administration’s plan thus far has focused on swapping America’s coal consumption for natural gas.
These same environmentalists view the new regulations as a crucial first step, since they only apply to new and modified natural gas infrastructure, not existing systems. And by some analysts’ calculations, over 70% of gas-sector methane emissions from now until 2025 will come from pre-existing infrastructure.
Still, the new rules set in motion one of the final remaining items on the president’s climate checklist. It seeks to cut gas-sector methane emissions 40 to 45% below 2012 levels by 2025 by restricting emissions from pumps, compressors, wells and other systems; requiring more frequent surveying for gas leaks; and implementing a data-gathering survey that will provide a more comprehensive understanding of how much methane leakage really occurs. EPA expects the new regulations to cost approximately $530 million all told, but should produce $690 million in environmental benefits.
Do I Need a Fracking Lawyer?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in fracking lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new air and water contamination cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if your air or drinking water has been contaminated due to methane migration or other consequences of hydraulic fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.