Leading investors representing $1.5 trillion in assets under management released a statement of support on Thursday for a strong federal standard to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, according to Ceres.
The White House’s proposal, released in January 2015, would cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 45 percent below 2012 levels by the year 2025. A draft rule is expected this summer.
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, over a 100-year period, Ceres says. Methane emissions occur throughout the entire oil and gas system, from production wells to distribution lines. Data released by the Environmental Protection Agency in April show that emissions in 2013 increased three percent over the previous year.
Studies show that methane leaks cost the oil and gas industry nearly $2 billion each year. Capturing and reusing the gas represents a significant economic opportunity, Ceres claims.
“Strong methane regulations will not only protect our environment, they will also strengthen oil and gas companies over the long-term and reduce energy costs to Americans,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, one of the Ceres statement’s signatories, said in a statement. “As long-term shareowners of the nation’s oil and gas companies, we have a vested interest in promoting sustainable, industry-wide practices that will create shareowner value for years to come.”
Natural gas production has been steadily rising over the past several years and that trend is expected to continue, driven in part by demand in the electric power industry as it shifts toward cleaner burning fuels.
Several companies have found innovative ways to reduce methane emissions on a small scale. California-based startup Newlight Technologies, for example, is capturing methane gas from dairy farms and turning it into AirCarbon, a durable and versatile plastic that can be used in everything from furniture and food containers to auto parts. AirCarbon removes more carbon from the atmosphere than its manufacturing emits, making it a carbon-negative material.