The Inflation Reduction Act, the 2021 U.S. climate law abbreviated IRA, primarily reduces emissions through financial incentives, rather than binding rules. But in addition to all its well-known carrots, lawmakers quietly included a smaller number of sticks — particularly when it comes to the potent greenhouse gas methane, which has proven to be a pesky source of increasing climate pollution with each passing year. New research suggests that those sticks could soon batter the oil and gas industry, which is responsible for a third of all methane emissions in the U.S.
An IRA provision directs the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to charge $900 for every metric ton of methane above a certain threshold released into the atmosphere in 2024. The issue is particularly challenging to tackle in oil and gas fields because methane is the primary component in natural gas, and it leaks from hundreds of thousands of devices scattered across the country. In 2022, oil and gas facilities emitted more than 2.5 million metric tons of methane.
The methane fee is one of ... Read more