White House to curb methane emissions from oil, gas production

White House to curb methane emissions from oil, gas production
Natural gas flares are seen at an oil pump site outside of Williston, North Dakota in this March 11, 2013 file photo.

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's administration will unveil new rules Wednesday that aim to slash methane emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45 per cent by 2025 in its latest move to solidify the Democratic president's credentials on climate change.

Under the proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior will issue measures to contain leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from new drilling equipment and from old and new production facilities located on public lands, officials said.

The new rules would take effect in 2016 and aim to cut emissions by up to 45 per cent from levels recorded in 2012, they said.

Methane emissions, the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions with 9 per cent of output in 2012, are expected to rise if unregulated.

As the Obama administration continues to address climate change through executive measures, the oil and gas sector had been one of the remaining areas in which the federal government had left to seek emission cuts.

Environmental groups have pushed for months for strict mandatory curbs on methane output, while industry groups have tried to convince officials that the sector's own voluntary measures have already made strides in reducing emissions.

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