Rampant methane emissions in the Permian Basin highlight desperate need for stronger EPA regulations

Rampant methane emissions in the Permian Basin highlight desperate need for stronger EPA regulations

July 28, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

STANTON, TEXAS - MARCH 12: Natural gas is flared off during an oil drilling operation in the Permian Basin oil field on March 12, 2022 in Stanton, Texas.  United States President Joe Biden imposed a ban on Russian oil, the world’s third-largest oil producer, which may mean that oil producers in the Permian Basin will need to pump more oil to meet demand. The Permian Basin is the largest petroleum-producing basin in the United States (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Flaring like this may look alarming, but it’s the cost of doing business for oil and gas companies that can’t help but pollute in order to keep us dependent on fossil fuels.

In mere weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil a supplemental draft rule aimed at cracking down on the oil and gas industry’s rampant methane emissions. This rule, which sidesteps the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling, provides a necessary advancement to 2016 rules that were rolled out similarly regulating methane emissions as part of the Obama administration’s ambitious climate goals. New rules could not come at a better time, given recent findings of rampant methane emissions in the oil-rich Permian Basin, where some fossil fuel companies are relentlessly polluting the region with nonstop methane emissions.

Taking data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab project known as Carbon Mapper, the Associated Press found dozens of so-called “super emitters” located in the area, of which just 10 companies owned 164 sites responsible for major methane emissions. The Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute Director, Kassie Siegel, provided an eye-opening analogy to the methane issue: “If carbon dioxide is the fossil-fuel broiler of our heating planet, methane is a blowtorch,” Siegel told the Associated Press. It’s long been understood that methane is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.