The US Department of the Interior finalized a new regulation this week to address "fugitive" emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as well as natural gas lost during fossil fuel production on federal lands. The rule intends to modernize dated procedures by necessitating “cutbacks in gas flaring, more inspections for leaks, and in some cases the installation of new equipment, [to] reduce methane emissions by 175,000 to 180,000 tons annually.” The rule is motivated in part to help mitigate climate change and also to address unrealized royalty revenue for taxpayers, which occurs as a result of lost, and therefore unusable, natural gas.
Experts from RFF, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative have examined several key questions around sources of methane and opportunities for emissions abatement in a joint webinar series, New Research on the Science and Economics of Natural Gas. At a September event, they discussed policy options for cost-effectively reducing methane emissions—including via trading programs—as well as highlighted new findings about inactive wells, which have implications for future methane emissions. View presentations and watch additional webinars in the series: