Duke Energy, PG&E, National Grid and TransCanada Pipelines are among the 41 energy companies that have accepted a challenge from the EPA to reduce their methane emissions.
The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program, launched last week, builds upon the Natural Gas STAR Program, a flexible, voluntary partnership between the EPA and the U.S. oil and gas industry that focuses on achieving cost-effective methane emission reductions from natural gas operations. The announcement of the launch of the Challenge did not indicate whether there was a minimum reduction required for “success.” Methane emissions are roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, according to the EPA.
“To protect public health and combat climate change, we are expanding our voluntary partnerships to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector through our new Methane Challenge program, which is a platform for companies to transparently report actions to reduce methane emissions and to be publicly recognized as leaders in reducing methane emissions in the United States,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The voluntary Methane Challenge program is one important part of our overarching strategy to reduce methane emissions, and complements regulatory efforts that will help the United States meet the Obama Administration’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025.”
The methane challenge will provide companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations via a variety of best management practices within five years. Transparency is a fundamental part of the program, and partner achievements will be tracked by submitting annual data directly to the EPA.
How to define and build a regenerative business
How can we start building truly regenerative systems? Download our new report, The Road to Regeneration, to understand the principles of regenerative business and learn how to put regeneration into practice.
The Methane Challenge Program has the potential to achieve significant emissions reductions in a cost-effective way, and is an important component of the Obama Administration’s 2014 Methane Strategy, which set out regulatory and voluntary approaches for reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. The EPA says it expects program participation to grow over time and is actively working to expand the options for participation by finalizing an additional Emissions Intensity Commitment option through the ONE Future Coalition — a group of natural gas companies focused on increasing efficiency across the natural gas supply chain.
Another company that signed onto the Challenge is Southern California Gas Company, the source of the catastrophic methane leak in Aliso Canyon that released over 1,000 tons of the gas into the air each day for over three months, starting in October 2015, that some called "the BP spill on land."
For the past several years, the Environmental Defense Fund has also been collaborating with seven oil and natural gas companies on its Methane Detectors Challenge, aimed at identifying next-generation technologies that will help better monitor and reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.