CASPER, Wyoming - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas production, according to a new national poll.
Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, the group behind the survey, said nearly two-thirds of voters support stronger methane rules if they lead to jobs in the methane mitigation industry.
"Wyoming is one of the leading states in the nation for clusters of these methane-mitigation industry jobs," he said, "factory jobs building the pieces of equipment that are used out in the oil and gas field; the inspectors that go out with infrared cameras and find and fix the leaks."
The poll comes as the Environmental Protection Agency soon is expected to release nationwide methane rules for the oil and gas industry. Industry groups have pushed back on protections that would include low-producing wells, citing costs, but the survey found seven out of 10 voters want rules that cover all wells, regardless of size.
Goldstein argued that national rules are necessary because air pollution doesn't stop at the state line. He added that technologies to capture lost natural gas have proved to be highly cost-effective.
"They're not free, but we are talking about pennies on the dollar," he said. "And with natural-gas prices going up again, it really makes sense to be capturing all of the methane we can. You know, this is natural gas, at the end of the day."
Methane is more than 80 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon, and at least 60% of methane emissions are the result of human activities. Goldstein said national protections would be a big step in addressing climate change.
"Methane is responsible for about a quarter of the warming that we're already experiencing," he said, "and particularly addressing methane from the oil and gas industry is really the 'low-hanging fruit' of ensuring that the country bends the curve on climate as quickly as possible."
Source: Wyoming News Service