Administration releases methane strategy

Obama Administration releases plan to reduce methane emissions that, while focusing on emissions from landfills and coal, targets ag methane.

Last June, President Barack Obama issued a broad-based Climate Action Plan, announcing a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

Today, the Administration released its "Interagency Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions."

The strategy summarizes the sources of methane emissions, commits to new steps to cut emissions of this potent greenhouse gas and outlines the Administration's efforts to improve the measurement of these emissions.

According to a fact sheet from the White House, the strategy builds on progress to date and takes steps to further cut methane emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture and oil and gas systems through voluntary actions and common-sense standards.

Key steps include:

* Landfills: In the summer of 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency will propose updated standards to reduce methane from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.

* Coal mines: In April, the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will release an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to gather public input on the development of a program for the capture and sale or disposal of waste mine methane on lands leased by the federal government.

* Agriculture: In June, in partnership with the dairy industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPA and U.S. Department of Energy will jointly release a "Biogas Roadmap" outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.

* Oil and gas: Building on success in reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector through voluntary programs and targeted regulations, the Administration will take new actions to encourage additional cost-effective reductions.

"Across the country, farmers and ranchers are taking action to protect natural resources, and the Administration's methane reduction strategy provides additional voluntary actions producers can take to cut methane emissions," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA will help producers implement these strategies, including methane capture technologies like anaerobic digesters and biogas systems, which create jobs and allow producers to tap into a $3 billion market for renewable energy. Since 2009, USDA has provided $62 million in support for 93 methane digester projects across the U.S.

"The voluntary strategies outlined today expand USDA's efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change," Vilsack added, pointing to USDA's recently announced "Climate Hubs."

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