The US government is set to allocate up to USD1.55bn in funding to monitor and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, as reported by Reuters on July 24. The funding will be provided by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory, with up to USD350m being granted to eligible states. These funds will be used to help companies voluntarily identify and permanently reduce methane emissions from low-producing wells. Additionally, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide technical support for companies to control methane emissions from leaks and daily operations. The EPA and DOE also plan to offer additional competitive solicitations, which would help a broader range of applicants monitor and mitigate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
The EPA emphasized that methane emissions from oil and gas operations not only lead to significant waste but also contribute to the climate crisis. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after entering the atmosphere. A recent study indicates that methane pollution from the US oil and gas industry was 70% higher than the EPA’s own estimates between 2010 and 2019, revealing the inadequacy of the federal government’s current system in detecting methane leaks from fossil fuel infrastructure. To address these concerns, the EPA has proposed stringent rules that would mandate monitoring of approximately 1 million well sites nationwide to detect and fix leaks, along with a plan to charge emitters up to USD1,500 per ton of methane emitted.