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White House plan to cut oil, gas emissions coming as soon as Friday

Source: Reuters - Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:07 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds details, recent study)

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - The Obama administration will propose a strategy to slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane as soon as Friday, a source with an environmental group said.

The strategy is part of President Barack Obama's climate action plan announced last year. The source, who could not be named because the plan has not been released, said the strategy could target everything from agriculture to mining and energy industries, but could not offer any other details.

Methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, is the main component of natural gas. The largest U.S. industrial source of methane is oil and natural gas operations.

The methane plan was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency with input from the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Agriculture, John Podesta, an adviser to Obama, told reporters last week. He said then the plan was soon to be finalized.

As the United States enjoys a boom in natural gas production many power plants have switched to the fuel, which releases half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned.

But there are persistent worries about leaks of methane from natural gas wells and pipelines.

Recent studies have found that U.S. methane emissions have been higher than estimated by the EPA. A study led by Stanford University last month said emissions of the gas from the U.S. natural gas supply chain were nearly two times higher than current estimates.

In the first 20 years after it is released, methane is 84 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, scientists with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have said. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Susan Heavey and Meredith Mazzilli)

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