Biden Delivers COP28 Crackdown on Methane Leaks From Oil Wells

(Bloomberg) -- COP28 Daily Reports: Sign up for the Green Daily newsletter for comprehensive coverage of the climate summit right in your inbox.

The Biden administration moved Saturday to crack down on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, by finalizing newly strengthened mandates forcing companies to replace leaky equipment and regularly search for escaping gas.

The final regulation announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency and Biden administration officials at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai comes amid intensifying global focus on methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas that’s at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere during the first two decades after its release. The rule is the culmination of a three-year EPA quest to stifle methane releases from existing oil wells and equipment — coming roughly a decade after the first initial steps to indirectly regulate that pollution.

Oil and gas operations are the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the US. While methane is the prime component of natural gas — and valued as a source of energy — the gas can leak errantly from pipelines and processing equipment, or be vented and flared at oil wells that lack infrastructure to carry away the fossil fuel.