Big Progress on Fracking 2016
Thanks to the support of millions of Americans, Green America and dozens of allies made big progress on fracking and methane emissions this year. Fracking has grown rapidly across the US in recent years, and as the US has ramped up oil and natural gas drilling nationally, we’ve seen a huge rise in methane leaks. In fact, methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent over the central US between 2002 and 2014. Methane emission increases over the past decade or more are significantly undermining the reductions the US has achieved in CO2 emissions over the same time period.
Methane waste is over 25 times more potent a climate change gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time period. Oil and gas operations also release volatile organic compounds, including carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde. Lower income communities nationwide often bear the brunt of these toxins. Reducing methane leaks will protect communities from multiple toxins.
In May, the EPA announced final rules regulating methane emissions from new and modified sources of oil and gas drilling. According to the EPA, “the final standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce 510,000 short tons of methane in 2025, the equivalent of reducing 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.” Green America’s individual members provided over 10,000 comments in support of EPA rulemaking that were delivered in person to the EPA.
In November, the Bureau of Land Management issued final rules regulating methane leaks on public lands. This is another major step forward in meeting President Obama’s stated goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Green America’s individual members, and our 3,000 business members strongly supported the BLM’s rulemaking.
Finally, in March 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas facility, which would have been built in Oregon, and would likely become the largest greenhouse gas emitting project in Oregon within the next decade. On both coasts of the US, the fossil fuel industry is seeking to build pipelines and export facilities that will increase natural gas fracking and put communities and the climate at risk. Green America and its members filed comments in opposition to Jordan Cove and met with FERC to express our opposition.
These are all important steps forward in reducing the impacts of fracking and methane emissions on communities and the planet. With the new Trump Administration, we will need to protect these gains from attacks by Congress and the Administration. We will need to work directly with companies to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and further cut down on emissions. With our over 200,000 individual and 3,000 business members, we will continue to be a strong voice in opposing fracking and its devastating impacts on people and the planet.