KUNM

EPA Announces New Methane Rules

May 12, 2016

Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new set of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, as part of an effort by the Obama Administration to cut methane emissions 45 percent by 2025.

Under the new rules, oil and gas operators will have to install equipment to catch and monitor methane leaks where oil and gas is produced, stored and transported.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, but it’s not hazardous to breathe. Still, environmental groups, and some residents near oil and gas wells, are saying the rules will have a health benefit for people living near drilling sites.

"Methane is not the only thing that comes out of the ground," said Sug McNall an Aztec resident who says she's been impacted by air pollution from oil and gas wells. "There’s hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toxics, carcinogens—that’s all with the methane."

McNall and others hope cutting down on methane leaks will also reduce leaks of those other hazardous chemicals.

The rules will only apply to new oil and gas wells, but the EPA is currently working on another set of regulations for existing wells.

Oil and Gas representatives have criticized the measure, saying the industry is already reducing methane emissions without federal regulations.