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March 14, 2016

U.S., Canadian Effort To Reduce Methane Emissions Could Impede Natural Gas Production

Last Thursday, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a joint effort to reduce their respective countries’ methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from their 2012 levels over the next nine years. 

President Obama said, “Canada is 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.” A White House fact sheet accompanying the announcement said, Environment and Climate Change Canada would “move, as expeditiously as possible, to put in place national regulations in collaboration with provinces/territories, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders” with the goal of publishing proposed regulations by early 2017. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be responsible for developing regulations to carry out President Obama’s pledge but, while the White House said the EPA would begin work immediately, given the fact there are only 10 months left in the president’s term, it is a near certainty that those regulations will not be finalized under the current president’s watch.

Advocates for the energy industry, meanwhile, argued the new rules would hamper natural gas production and development and increase costs for consumers. American Petroleum Institute Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy 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.” 

The National Association of Manufacturers said the new rules “represent a serious concern for manufacturers” because natural gas “has served as a major bright spot for manufacturers and has been a key driver in new investments, which have added hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs across the country.”