Washington, DC - Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized standards for methane pollution from new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector. These safeguards are the first-ever national standards for methane pollution, a greenhouse gas that is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the near term.

Last month, the EPA released its Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, which confirmed that the oil and gas industry is the leading emitter of methane pollution in the United States. The report estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry to be 34-percent higher than previously thought, at more than 9.8 million metric tons of pollution on an annual basis.

Today’s announcement is a critical element of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to reduce methane emissions by 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025.

In response, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Michael Brune released the following statement: “We applaud today’s announcement by the EPA and the Obama Administration, which will help protect communities around the country from dangerous methane pollution from future oil and gas development. In taking this important first step, the EPA and the Obama Administration are rejecting the status quo that has allowed the oil and gas industry to recklessly pollute communities around the country for so long.

“EPA’s methane standards for new and modified oil and gas sources are a critical step in addressing climate change. We will remain steadfast in our efforts urging EPA to move expeditiously on its commitment to address existing sources of this highly potent greenhouse gas--which will continue to be responsible for the vast majority of this pollutant--and is essential in meeting the Paris climate agreement.

“Yet, if we are to truly safeguard our communities, our health, and our climate from the dangers of fossil fuel pollution, we must keep dirty fuels in the ground and transition to clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power.”