These regulations will affect hundreds of thousands of existing sources across the nation.
The announcement was made by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, alongside White House climate czar Ali Zaidi, Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and climate advocates at a press conference at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai. The administration has described this action as one of the "most critical" steps to "slow the rate of climate change."
Regan stated, "On day one, President Biden restored America’s critical role as the global leader in confronting climate change, and today we’ve backed up that commitment with strong action, significantly slashing methane emissions and other air pollutants that endanger communities." He added that the rule will "reduce climate pollution, protecting people and the planet."
Zaidi further emphasized the administration's commitment to climate action, stating, "Under President Biden and Vice President Harris’s leadership, the U.S is turbocharging the speed and scale of climate action, at home and abroad, including our collective efforts to tackle super-pollutants like methane." He highlighted that the administration has taken over 100 actions to implement the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan in the past year.
The regulations are expected to prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions between 2024 and 2038, according to the EPA. This is equivalent to 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, roughly the same amount emitted by the power sector in 2021.
The new regulations will require the energy industry to reduce methane emissions, primarily through the use of advanced technology such as pollution-control equipment, aerial screening, sensor networks, and satellites. The regulations also introduce a Super Emitter Program to detect large methane releases.
Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, praised the regulations, stating, "As the world gathers to tackle the climate crisis, the U.S. now has the most protective methane pollution limits on the books." He added that the EPA's limits are a "vital win for the climate and public health."
The American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil and gas lobby group, stated that it shares the administration's goal of reducing methane emissions and is reviewing the rules.
However, the regulations have faced opposition from Republican lawmakers and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who argue that they will reduce oil and gas production and increase costs for U.S. consumers. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Environment Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson wrote to Regan, stating, "Energy prices are projected to rise for American families because of new methane regulations, expanded emissions monitoring and reporting requirements, and a new tax on methane."
Manchin also expressed his concerns in a letter to Regan, stating that the rule shows the Biden administration's determination to "target our flourishing oil and gas sector" and could put "energy and national security at risk."
The finalized regulations come as other nations are expected to make similar pledges to reduce methane emissions during COP28. They also follow calls from world leaders and U.S. lawmakers for more aggressive action to combat climate change.