US offers $850 million in grants to clean up oil sector methane emissions

A pipeline that moves methane gas from the Frank R. Bowerman landfill to an onsite power plant is shown in Irvine, California

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government opened up on Friday competitive bidding that will close on Aug. 26 for $850 million in grants to help small oil and gas producers monitor and reduce methane from their operations, a major part of the Biden administration's plan to crack down on leaks of the potent greenhouse gas.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

The funding, made available through the administration's signature climate law called the Inflation Reduction Act, will specifically help small oil and natural gas operators reduce methane emissions and gain access to methane detection and reduction technologies. It will be open to industry, academia, NGOs, Native American tribes, and state and local governments.

THE CONTEXT

Some smaller, independent U.S. oil and gas operators had strongly opposed the Environmental Protection Agency's new methane standards that target hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide because they would place a financial burden on low-producing wells, as well as the agency's proposed methane fee on producers.

KEY QUOTE

"These investments from President Biden's Investing in America agenda will drive the deployment of available and advanced technologies to better understand where methane emissions are coming from. That will help us more effectively reduce harmful pollution, tackle the climate crisis, and create good-paying jobs," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Oil and gas production is the source of around a third of the nation's methane emissions and is a key target for the Biden administration as it seeks to combat climate change. The United States is among more than 100 countries that have pledged to cut their methane emissions 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels. Low-producing oil and gas wells that account for just 6% of total U.S. production account for half of the methane emitted from all U.S. well sites, a 2022 report found.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)