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Justin Wasser, 202.753.7016, jwasser@earthworks.org

Biden Takes Action to Cut Methane, Culmination of 10 Years of Advocacy

The Biden administration finalized first-ever methane pollution standards for existing oil & gas production as COP28 begins.

Background: On Saturday, December 2, 2023, the Biden administration announced final rules to cut methane gas pollution from existing oil & gas production at COP28 in Dubai. The move is a critical step toward reducing a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more powerful at warming the climate than carbon dioxide. These standards are a culmination of more than a decade of work by advocates, activists and communities to demand accountability from fossil fuel polluters, including 10 years of optical gas investigations by Earthworks staff that made oil and gas methane pollution visible and undeniable.

The rule also advances near-term health protections. Methane gas is emitted along the entire oil and gas supply chain with other hazardous toxics that disproportionately impact the health and safety of low-income communities and communities of color in places such as Southern California, Texas, Louisiana and Northwest New Mexico as well as low-income communities and the elderly in Appalachia. 

Effective implementation of these federal rules and significantly improved enforcement by regulatory agencies are essential for climate and the health of environmental justice communities, oil and gas workers, and all those living on the frontlines of extraction to be protected. In no way do these rules, or effective implementation of these rules, justify a continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. The International Energy Agency has made clear that both a phase out of fossil fuels and immediate action to cut methane are necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.

Statement by Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel:

“Climate catastrophe cannot be avoided nor frontline communities protected without action to cut methane. Thank you, President Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency, for taking this critical step toward reducing harmful oil and gas pollution in the US.

“But the credit shouldn’t be given to the President alone. These protections would never have been possible without the tireless advocacy of communities speaking out and experts proving time and again that the oil and gas industry is polluting far more than they admit.

“It is now up to the states and the EPA to effectively implement and aggressively enforce these protections to protect the health of communities impacted by oil and gas air pollution.

“It is also time for President Biden to take the next necessary step to right historical injustices for those who have disproportionately experienced the harms of extraction. The President must declare a climate emergency that will further protect health and prevent climate catastrophe by stopping fossil fuel expansion and speeding the transition to a livable, just, and equitable future.” 

For more information:

  • VIDEO: US Environmental Protection Agency to announce latest actions to reduce methane emissions at COP28 (2 December 2023).
  • International Energy Agency report:Urgent action to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel operations essential to achieve global climate targets (11 October 2023)