US, Canada reach agreement to cut methane emissions

From NAM’s Manufacturing Economy Daily blog

The New York Times reports President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday announced “new commitments to reduce planet-warming emissions of methane,” which is “a chemical contained in natural gas that is about 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide.” In a joint statement, the leaders vowed the US and Canada would “play a leadership role internationally in the low carbon global economy over the coming decades.” The countries will also seek to “accelerate the carrying out of agreements made in climate talks in Paris last year.” The Los Angeles Times  similarly reports “the most notable commitment…is a plan to reduce potent methane emissions by 40-45% below 2012 levels by 2025.” The Washington Times  reports the EPA “will begin developing regulations ‘immediately,’ the White House said.”

The Hill (DC)  reports Obama said, “I’m especially pleased to say the United States and Canada are fully united in combating climate change.” Obama added, “Canada’s joining us in our aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries. And together we’re going to move swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal.” Trudeau said, “The president and I share a common goal,” adding, “Want the clean growth economy that continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities for all of our citizens. And I’m confident that by working together we’ll get there sooner than we think.” According to the Los Angeles Times, yesterday’s announcement on methane emissions “served as a broader reaffirmation of the cooperative spirit long shared between the countries – strained in recent years – that has moved forward significantly since Trudeau’s election in October.”

The Houston Chronicle reports the move by the White House yesterday “to expand methane emission limits to all oil and natural gas wells upped the stakes in the administration’s campaign to fight climate change.” At a news conference yesterday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “Based on this growing body of science, it’s become clear it’s come time for EPA to take additional action. … We’ll start this work immediately, and we intend to work quickly.”

Also covering the story were Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Industry Advocates: New Methane Regulations Threaten Oil And Gas Development, Hinder Other Sectors. Natural Gas Intelligence reports on industry’s reaction to President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau’s methane gas agreement, with industry advocates stating the further regulations are unnecessary due to the strides industry has made in reducing methane emissions without such oversight. Instead, they argue the rule would only serve to add unnecessary costs that would hinder oil and gas development.

NAM Vice President of Energy Resources and Policy Ross Eisenberg noted how “Manufacturers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10% since 2005, while our value to the economy has increased by 19% over the same time period.” Eisenberg also highlighted the connection between oil and gas development and manufacturers, stating “Our ability to produce more and grow the economy while lowering emissions is dependent on access to reliable and affordable energy. The shale revolution has served as a major bright spot for manufacturers and has been a key driver in new investments across the country that have added hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The Hill (DC) reports the American Petroleum Institute criticized the announcement as “catering to environmental extremists at the expense of American consumers.” API vice president for regulations Kyle Isakower said, “Additional regulations on methane by the administration could discourage the shale energy revolution that has helped America lead the world in reducing emissions while significantly lowering the costs of energy to consumers. … We need to make sure that new regulations are necessary, not duplicative, and that they are based on sound science.”

Bloomberg News reports that the decision “imposes new costs on an industry that’s already reeling.” Energy In Depth spokesman Steve Everley said, “The economic impacts of these new regulations could be serious, especially for the men and women working in the oil and natural gas industry already suffering from a difficult market.”

Meanwhile, the Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel reports on how environmental activists approved of the new agreement while industry advocates “worried that the action would further burden struggling energy companies.” The Daily Sentinel highlights a press release from Eisenberg, which stated “The NAM strongly urges the administration to avoid issuing any unnecessary or duplicative regulations that would limit manufacturers’ access to critical energy resources.”

A National Association of Manufacturers press release further highlighted Eisenberg’s comments after the EPA announced plans to regulate methane, with Eisenberg noting how “New technologies and efforts already being deployed are allowing for more oil and gas production with fewer emissions” and how “manufacturers continue to lead in developing new solutions that allow for greater energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.”