In a recent policy action California‘s air quality board voted unanimously to adopt regulations for methane that are the strongest in the history of the United States. There have been a string of recent incidents that involve methane pollution, including the giant leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage field.
The body of regulations will force companies to increase monitoring of methane emissions, which aren’t normally considered due to the low commercial value of the gas.
While methane isn’t worth much money, it is extremely dangerous when it comes to climate change. The discharge at Aliso Canyon is thought to have dome more damage to the environment than the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to forcing the evacuation of the community near the methane storage facility, the methane itself creates rapid warming in the atmosphere. It is far more dangerous than carbon dioxide, and acts much faster.
While California is doing what it can to fight climate change at a state level, the federal government in the United States is going in the opposite direction. President Trump recently signed an executive order that repealed environmental protections on a scale that has never been seen before, and the head of the EPA is doing what he can to streamline the development of high carbon sources of energy.
The Environmental Defense Fund worked in concert with the California Air Board to craft this legislation, with director Tim O’Connor commenting on the approval of these measures, “If the federal government won’t protect the people and the environment from oil and gas pollution, it has to be up to the states,”
California Natural Gas Producers Association has expressed concern about the costs that this will create for them, but overall this is a good thing. Maybe if methane was more expensive, people would pay more attention to it. Instead of just letting it leak in absurd quantities.
Good for you California, now if only the federal government was on the same page.