BACKGROUNDER: Biden administration tackles super polluting methane emissions
Interior announces $1.15 billion of bipartisan infrastructure law to create jobs by capping sinks alongside additional federal action
When President Biden restored American climate leadership to the world stage in Glasgow at the United Nations climate conference, he unveiled America’s methane emissions reduction action plan. The ambitious action plan outlined how the United States will leverage all available tools to combat super-polluting methane emissions – a major contributor to climate change – while protecting public health, promoting American innovation in new technologies and helping to employ thousands of skilled workers around the world. country.
Today, the Biden administration is announcing new actions consistent with the Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan to address methane emissions and support a clean energy economy, including:
- The Department of the Interior is announcing $1.15 billion for states to clean up orphan oil and gas wells, a major source of methane emissions.
- The Department of Energy announces the launch of a Methane Reduction Infrastructure Initiative to provide technical assistance to orphan well cleanup efforts of federal agencies, states and tribes.
- The Department of Transportation announces a new application of the PIPES law to require pipeline operators to minimize methane leaks.
- The Department of Agriculture highlights ongoing research efforts and investments to reduce methane emissions from cattle and dairy systems.
- The White House announces the formation of a new interagency task force to coordinate the measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
- The President’s Interagency Task Force on Coal and Power Communities and Economic Revitalization announces a national workshop for energy communities on the repurposing of fossil fuel infrastructure, including orphan oil and gas wells, for a use in new industries.
These steps show how President Biden and the United States are taking bold steps at home to follow through on international commitments. At the US-led Major Economies Energy and Climate Forum in September 2021, the President and the EU announced the Global Methane Pledge: a global partnership to collectively reduce methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels by 2030. President Biden has helped rally more than 110 countries to join the initiative, which now covers nearly half of all methane emissions and 70% of global GDP.
Together, today’s actions will:
Clean orphan wells
As part of a new $4.7 billion orphan well cleanup program established under President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Department of the Interior today announced $1.15 billion dollars are available for states to start cleaning up thousands of unhealthy orphan oil and gas wells. and community safety across the country. Many of these orphan wells are located in rural communities, environmental justice communities, and communities of color that have suffered from years of disinvestment. Plugging these wells will not only reduce methane emissions and stop dangerous pollution, but it will create well-paying union jobs and spur economic revitalization, especially in hard-hit energy communities. Funding announced today will be made available to states to identify and plug orphan wells, remediate and reclaim land impacted by oil and gas development activities, and remove infrastructure associated with wells. The 26 states eligible for this funding collectively represent almost all of the states with documented orphan wells in the country.
The bipartisan infrastructure law also includes additional investments that support methane reduction, including:
- $11.3 billion in new funding for the reclamation of abandoned mining lands through the Department of the Interior;
- $1 billion for gas pipeline upgrades at the Department of Transportation;
- $100 million for investments in wastewater efficiency, including methane capture or transfers, to the Environmental Protection Agency; and
- $30 million to the Department of Energy to help identify, characterize and mitigate environmental risks from undocumented orphan wells.
Launch a methane reduction infrastructure initiative
The Ministry of Energy announced that it has started to coordinate with the Ministry of Interior and other relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the Methane Reduction Infrastructure Initiative (MRII), which is funded by $30 million from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. The MRII will enable the federal government, states, and tribes to develop a better understanding of the various challenges and opportunities to accelerate the detection, characterization, and mitigation of methane emissions from undocumented wells across the United States. As a first step, the MRII will host a technical workshop to begin discussing the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) needs for the new orphan well program created by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. This workshop will bring together technology developers, industry partners, federal and state agencies, and others and will focus on topics including identification, characterization, methane measurement, and collaboration for plugging orphan wells. . The workshop will include discussions on advanced remediation and methane detection technologies, tools and methods, as well as best practices that can be used for prioritizing well plugging and abandonment activities.
Minimize methane leaks in pipelines
The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it has begun enforcing Section 114 of the PIPES Act, which will help ensure that pipeline operators immediately begin minimizing their methane emissions and help inform the development new regulations that will require pipeline operators to minimize their methane emissions in their pipeline systems. DOT will host a public webinar later this month to provide more information on new law enforcement activity in this space and clarify agency expectations for immediate action to minimize emissions. methane by the pipeline sector.
Reduce methane emissions from cattle and dairy systems
The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) develops science-based models and tools that help industry partners assess and track progress toward net-zero emissions from the U.S. dairy sector. ARS researchers collaborated with academic and industry partners to conduct a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of beef and dairy production systems in the United States to further improve the environmental footprint of dairy products and reduce ammonia and methane emissions from manure storage sources with the aim of reducing overall methane emissions. In addition to cutting-edge research conducted by USDA scientists, the Department’s rural development mission area has supported more than $200 million in methane-reducing anaerobic digestion projects in the past year.
Advanced greenhouse gas monitoring and measurement
The White House announces the formation of an Interagency Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Monitoring and Measurement Task Force to help identify and deploy the best tools and data systems available to measure, monitor, report and verify (MMRV) carbon dioxide, methane and other GHG emissions and removals. The new Interagency GHG Measurement Working Group will work with scientists, technologists and mappers to develop a comprehensive national GHG MMRV system that will facilitate the dissemination and availability of validated scientific GHG data for use by federal, local, state and tribal governments, the private sector and the public. In the near term, the Interagency GHG Measurement and Monitoring Task Force will focus on Presidential climate priorities, including carbon dioxide and methane emissions and removals under the U.S. Action Plan to Reduce methane emissions and USDA initiatives for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The task force is co-led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House Office of Climate Policy.
Stimulate new industries in energy communities
The President’s Interagency Task Force on Coal and Power Communities and Economic Revitalization, which focuses on economic diversification and community-driven solutions in historic coal, oil and gas regions across the United States, announced that it will host a national workshop on the potential to reduce methane emissions from legacy fossil fuel infrastructure, including orphan oil and gas wells, while supporting new emerging industries, including l clean energy and manufacturing. Operating and transforming legacy fossil fuel infrastructure provides opportunities for skilled labor to access new sources of long-term, quality jobs and for states and communities to increase tax revenue . For example, the Department of Energy recently awarded $8.4 million in grants to establish new geothermal power and heat generation from orphan oil and gas wells. This workshop will be hosted by the Interagency Working Group and will include technical expertise from across government on site remediation and restoration, worker training and relocated worker development, as well as the wide range of options for the repurposing of fossil fuel infrastructure.