White House Announces Plans to Reduce Methane Emission


President Obama made headlines on June last year when he proposed a plan to address the harmful greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. This year, on March 28, the President made a few adjustments to the proposed plan. The White House announced that they would also be looking towards reducing methane emissions.

The administration believes that this would be an outgrowth of the President’s Climate Action Plan. Methane gas is a dangerous greenhouse gas. Being a powerful gas, Methane has 20 times the effect on the Earth’s atmosphere as compared to carbon dioxide.

The government will target four important areas where methane emission is the highest. The targeted areas would be landfills, coal mines, agricultural grounds, and the gas and oil industry. It is expected that much more strict laws would be implemented to enforce the proposed plan. In a report from the White House it was estimated that coal mines contribute to 10 percent of the methane emission. Landfills and natural gasses are responsible for 18 percent and 28 percent of methane emissions respectively, while agriculture produces an astounding 38 percent methane.

To act upon the proposed plan the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released updated standards that landfill managements will now have to follow. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is tasked with containing methane emission from land mines. They will propose plans to capture and safely dispose of the methane released from coal mines.

The White House’s announced plan to reduce methane emission is intended to gradually progress over the years. In June the US Department of Agriculture, the EPA and the Department of Energy will partner with the diary industry in an attempt to reduce their methane emission. Their expected goal to reach is almost 25 percent by the year 2020.

Most oil and gas companies point out that methane emission has dropped by almost 11 percent since 1990. As such there is no immediate threat that the industry poses. Environmentalist groups on the other hand, are adamant that these numbers are being misrepresented and that the actual numbers might be much higher than these. If not then it is possible that these numbers will continue to go up if counter-measures are not put into effect.

The proposed plan so far really is what the name suggests, a plan. It is a simple outline of what the government plans to accomplish. The White House stated that the EPA this year will simply release a sequence of papers detailing the potential sources of methane emission from the oil and gas industry. These data will be collected from a pool of independent experts. By the fall of this year the EPA will finally decide if it would be feasible to act upon the reports.

Investments in further technologies will be made to better detect the emission of methane. It was reported that the Department of Energy will support the development of devices that can efficiently trap, monitor and detect methane gas.

If the government does plan on acting upon the proposed plan, it will be made sure that the rules and regulations are implemented by the year 2016, just before President Obama leaves office. The White House’s announcement of their plan to reduce methane emission might not surprise many but most environmentalist groups consider it to be an important step towards protecting our planet.

By Hammad Ali


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