The Obama administration has issued new rules for reducing climate-warming methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, continuing its string of executive branch actions aimed at addressing climate change.

The regulations cover only new or substantially modified oil and gas facilities: wells, processors, storage facilities, and pipelines. The administration says it will be up to the next president to lead the charge on reining in emissions from existing sources.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rules highlight President Barack Obama's commitment to addressing climate change, and limiting pollutants that compromise public health.

"Today, we are underscoring the administration's commitment to finding commonsense ways to cut methane — a potent greenhouse gas fueling climate change — and other harmful pollution from the oil and gas sector," she said. "Together these new actions will protect public health and reduce pollution linked to cancer and other serious health effects while allowing industry to continue to grow and provide a vital source of energy for Americans across the country."

Obama has committed to cutting US methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. The EPA estimates that the new rule will reduce methane emissions by 510,000 tons in 2025, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by nearly 2.5 million automobiles in a year.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which on a 20-year time scale is 84 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Congressional Republicans and oil and gas industry representatives were quick to denounce the regulations, which they said are unnecessary in light of voluntary efforts on the part of the industry to reduce pollution.

Source: Vice News