A Lutheran’s Guide to Methane Regulations

Posted on February 2, 2015 by Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. – Genesis 2:15

In January, the Obama administration announced their plan with the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce methane gas emissions from the oil and gas sector over the next ten years. The plan will result in a 40-45 percent reduction in methane emissions, and a lot of people are excited about the plan.

That may leave you wondering: What’s so exciting about methane regulations? Below, some questions about methane and the plan put forth by the White House and the EPA are answered.

1. What is methane?

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and is also considered to be a greenhouse gas. This means that methane warms the atmosphere when it is leaked into the air before use.

2. What’s so bad about it?

While methane only accounts for about 9 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, it is far more dangerous than carbon dioxide. In fact, over a hundred-year period, when compared pound-for-pound, methane’s impact on climate change is twenty times worse than carbon dioxide.

3. Don’t methane emissions come from a lot of sources?

Yes, methane emissions come from a variety of sources, including landfills, coal mining, and even cow manure. However, the oil and gas industry is the largest contributor to methane emissions, with 29 percent coming from the industry according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The good news, though, is that there’s a lot that can be done to curb the emissions.

4. What does the plan call for?

There are a lot of components to the plan put forth by the White House and the EPA. The most important piece of the plan is its call to set new standards for methane emissions from new sources. While this piece of the plan has been criticized for only affecting new sources and not existing ones, it is still a sign of hope for change to come.

5. Why should I care?

As people of faith, we are called to care for creation. As we see in Genesis 2:15, God placed Adam in the garden to care for it. Although generations have passed since Adam’s creation, we are still called to do this work. Greenhouse gases have contributed to climate change, resulting in numerous problems like rising sea levels, extreme weather, and more frequent wildfires. The effects of climate change are most felt by vulnerable groups like children and low-income families, groups of people that we are called through faith to care for and defend. By reducing methane emissions, we answer the call to care for the earth and our communities.

This is just the beginning of the journey to reduce methane emissions. In the coming months, stay tuned for ways that you can help contribute to the conversation.

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