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Sacramento, July 21 — Today the California Air Resources Board first meets to publicly consider its proposed rule to limit methane and associated toxic pollution from oil and gas facilities. While CARB still has the opportunity to strengthen the rule in a few key ways, environmental groups from around the state and the country lauded the rule as an example to follow for other states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The CARB proposal —

  • Applies to new and existing oil and gas facilities. In this way it goes beyond the recently finalized U.S. EPA rules,  which only apply to new and modified facilities
  • Applies to a broad suite of on and offshore facilities including well sites, compressor stations, gas processing plants, and natural gas underground storage facilities
  • Applies to many of the leading sources of leaks and venting and requires operators to use modern leak detection and capture equipment to ensure more natural gas is routed to pipelines or used onsite rather than vented, leaked to the atmosphere, or combusted

“California has proposed the nation’s strongest standard to cut methane and associated toxic air pollution from oil and gas facilities. It is an example that other states and the Environmental Protection Agency should follow,” said Earthworks’ energy program director Bruce Baizel. He continued, “If implemented and enforced, this standard will help protect not only the climate while we transition to a renewables-based economy, but also the health of Californians now living near oil and gas operations.”

“California is now firmly on the path to adopt the nation’s strongest methane controls anywhere,” said Tim O’Connor of the Environmental Defense Fund, “As we learned from Aliso Canyon, oil and gas infrastructure can and does fail. While mega-leaks are rare, they illustrate the risk we face daily as the state’s infrastructure ages, and a reminder of how important it is to have strong protections that ensure methane stays in the pipelines where it belongs.”

“California's new methane protections are an important step forward and will rein in pollution from one of the dirtiest industries in the state.” said Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action. “The oil and gas industry needs strong rules and strict enforcement to limit damage to communities and the climate. EPA should follow California’s lead and enact national methane standards for existing oil and gas infrastructure.”

“When my family had to move as a result of the Aliso Canyon catastrophe, I saw firsthand the harmful impacts that methane and other air pollution from the oil and gas industry can have on our communities,” said Jennifer Moeller of Moms Clean Air Force. “With these critical protections California is now leading the fight against this pollution and helping to create a cleaner and a brighter future for our children.”

“We applaud the California Air Resources Board for moving forward with these protections against unchecked methane pollution to help safeguard our communities and climate,” said Sierra Club staff attorney Elly Benson. “Californians know all too well the dangerous impacts of the oil and gas industry, and we urge CARB to ensure these standards deliver the strongest possible protections and are implemented swiftly. Ultimately, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to a 100% clean energy economy.”

“California’s proposed standards highlight the growing consensus that addressing methane pollution is achievable and urgently needed for climate protection,” said Sarah Uhl, Clean Air Task Force Program Director for Short-lived Climate Pollutants.  “In particular, the proposed requirements for fixing leaks and preventing emissions from storage tanks and underground storage facilities create strong precedents for EPA and other states considering similar actions. Ultimately, we need nationwide safeguards for the existing oil and gas equipment that will otherwise continue polluting our air and threatening the climate for years to come.”

“Once again, California demonstrates real leadership in limiting air pollution, guarding our planet against climate change and protecting the health of our communities,” said Sarah Rose, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. “These rules, which have evolved out of AB32, California's landmark climate change law, are an exciting milestone, but also point to the need for comprehensive national rules.”

States are the primary regulators for oil and gas operations in the United States. Yet until Colorado issued methane rules in 2014, no state limited methane from oil and gas operations. Earlier this year the federal Environmental Protection Agency finalized rules limiting methane emissions from new and modified, but not existing, oil and gas facilities.

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