New Federal Bill Targets Methane Gas Leaks

New Federal Bill Targets Methane Gas Leaks
(Tim Evanson/Flickr)
COLUMBUS, Ohio - New federal legislation could help Ohio in its efforts to reduce methane gas leaks from natural-gas facilities.

Methane is considered one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and nearly $2 billion worth of methane is lost each year at oil and gas well sites across the country. The Methane Waste Prevention Act of 2019, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to keep 2016 methane rules in place for new and updated oil and gas facilities.

Isaac Brown, executive director of the Center for Methane Emission Solutions, said that would benefit Ohio, which already has gas-leak detection and repair requirements.

"The hodgepodge of rules across the country really creates a very difficult regulatory environment for states, and for oil and gas producers and industry," he said, "because it's hard for states to operate in a vacuum when you're talking about an industry that's national in scale."

The bill instructs the U.S. Interior Department to reinstate and update protections to reduce methane leaks, venting, and flaring of natural gas from public lands. It also would block an EPA proposal to roll back the 2016 methane standards, which Brown contended are working.

"In states where there are established rules," he said, "we are seeing both oil and gas production increasing while methane emissions are being cut dramatically."

Brown noted that Ohio's 2016 methane standards are widely supported by environmental, labor and public health groups, as well as many elected leaders.

"One of the things we're seeing in states like Ohio is, this is not a partisan issue," he said. "Governors on both sides of the aisle are recognizing that we need to do something about methane emissions, but that it's also important that methane is regulated in a manner that is cost-effective."

Ohio is part of the Utica and Marcellus shale region, which is expected to supply nearly half of all U.S. natural gas by 2040. More than a dozen methane-mitigation companies in the state produce and install leak-reduction technologies.

The bill's text is online at
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