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Tougher EPA methane regulations could improve Indiana air quality

Mark Richardson, Indiana Public News Service

As part of the U.S. clean-energy transition, the Biden administration has made slashing methane emissions a priority, and has new supplemental federal rules aimed at strengthening controls in Indiana and other states.

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency said the methane-reduction regulations announced in 2021 would be augmented to include hundreds of thousands of existing oil and gas sources nationwide.

Wendy Bredhold, senior campaign representative of the Beyond Coal Campaign for the Sierra Club, said a significant amount of Indiana’s methane emissions come from its 5,000 miles of gas pipelines.

“A lot of this methane is coming from just leaks in the system as they’re transporting it from place to place,” Bredhold pointed out. “Also, you have some of it just being burned off or intentionally released. That’s bad for local pollution, and it’s bad for the climate crisis.”

According to the EPA, Indiana ranks seventh out of the 50 states for the amount of methane leaked into the atmosphere. The latest rules target transmission lines and high-polluting, low-producing wells.

The proposed rules require energy producers to closely monitor operations, identify methane leaks and do routine checks at well sites. Bredhold pointed out studies show methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in creating greenhouse gases.

“While CO2 hangs around for a longer amount of time, methane is actually a worse climate disrupter many times over in the near term,” Bredhold explained. “That’s why it’s so important to address it.”

The new rules would require quarterly inspections at all sites across the country, as well as semiannual inspections of wellhead-only sites.

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