California adopts strictest methane rule in the nation

[Source: The San Diego Union Tribune] As expected, California officials on Thursday night passed what is considered the nation’s strictest rule aimed at curbing emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the measure on a unanimous vote at a meeting in Riverside.

“The Trump administration has backed away from efforts to develop a federal rule to curb methane leaks from existing facilities — the nation’s largest source of methane pollution,” Mary Nichols, CARB chair, said in a statement immediately after the vote.

“California’s regulations continue our leadership in fighting air pollutants and help meet our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”

The regulation is sweeping, covering oil and gas sites on land as well as offshore and would apply to private, state and federal property. Tribal land, however, would be exempt.

It would also cover storage sites such as the Aliso Canyon natural gas facility, site of a massive leak that forced thousands from their homes in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles County.

Methane is estimated to have 72 times more potential impact on global warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Advocates for the rule say 75,000 tons of methane go into the atmosphere in California through leaky equipment and venting from oil and gas producers.

The rule mandates regular inspections at facilities and promises to slash methane releases by as much as 45 percent over the next nine years. The regulation will go into effect in phases, starting Jan. 1, 2018.

CARB officials say California’s methane rule is expected to reduce methane leaks by the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.

Source: The San Diego Union Tribune
March 24, 2017