The Clean Water Blog

Screenshot of methane leak in Butler County via Earthworks

California Leads on Reducing Methane Emissions

Yesterday, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the strongest regulations in the country to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production and storage.

Clean Water Action and our allies led the charge to get these regulations in place.

As California leads the way, the Trump administration is going backwards on this and many other issues, and that’s all the more reason for us to be out in front.

Methane is especially critical, because it traps heat about 84 times more than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The regulation also requires operators to capture rather than vent and flare natural gas. This will improve public health, especially for low-income communities, because oil and gas facilities are often located close to their neighborhoods. Venting and flaring releases benzene and other hazardous compounds.

Not only are there critical environmental and environmental justice benefits, there will also be economic benefits, as the captured natural gas can be sold or used on site.

Kudos goes to the Air Resources Board for taking the lead on this important issue. To realize all these benefits, however, timely and effective implementation of these regulations must happen. Current plans for implementation, however, appear to be delayed for a year longer than originally planned.

With every successive year being the hottest ever and with low-income communities suffering chronic health impacts, implementation should happen as quickly as possible. Moreover, communities should be key players in the enforcement of regulations.

Developing and adopting the regulations was not easy, but now the harder part begins, ensuring that they have real world positive impacts.