Click to read APHA and other health advocates  urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt the strongest possible standards to reduce harmful emissions of methane. Photo by APHA

Click to read APHA and other health advocates urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt the strongest possible standards to reduce harmful emissions of methane. Photo by APHA

Today, President Barack Obama and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced goals to reduce methane emissions by “40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector,” according to a White House statement.

The plan builds off the Paris climate change agreement in December, a global partnership between more than 190 countries to reduce carbon pollution and fight the harmful health effects created by climate change. The administration’s announcement to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector — the world’s largest source of industrialized methane — calls upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations “immediately” and to “move as expeditiously as possible to complete this process.”

In December, APHA submitted comments to EPA along with other medical and public health groups urging adoption of the strongest possible standards to reduce methane emissions and other pollutants from all new and modified sources within the oil and natural gas industry. The groups urged the administration to also develop standards for existing sources.

“To protect our children, our communities and the public, the United States must significantly reduce greenhouse gases,” the comments state. “Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Reducing methane is an essential step to reduce the burden of climate change, but the benefits go far outside the impact on the climate, particularly in the reduction of other toxic and carcinogenic emissions with the same effort. Lifesaving benefits to public health can begin immediately.”

Check out APHA’s climate change page to find out more about methane and other greenhouse gases.

Gas flare photo by Tim Evanson, courtesy Flickr.