Food & Water Watch: Obama Administration’s Plan to Regulate Methane Offers Yet Another False Solution

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–August 18, 2015.  Food & Water Watch Executive Director issued the following statement in response to the release of the Obama Administration’s regulations to directly regulate methane leaks from the oil and gas industry:

“If adopted, these regulations would wrongly promote natural gas as a ‘clean’ alternative to oil and coal. These weak regulations leave the impression that pursuing natural gas benefits the environment, providing a justification for continuing to drill and frack.

“Besides contaminating water and causing earthquakes, drilling and fracking for gas is impacting the global climate.

“Implementing the proposed methane reductions could not possibly hold off the growing climate crisis. Methane leaks are seriously underreported and will increase as fracking is expanded.

“Even if only carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas are considered, we must keep fracked gas in the ground. Regulating methane will not address fracking’s carbon dioxide footprint and fracking must be entirely halted if we are to avoid the worst of the expected impacts from global warming.

“A serious program for curbing climate change, means President Obama needs to move aggressively to keep fossil fuels in the ground, stop promoting expanded drilling and fracking, and do everything in his power to accelerate the transition to a 100% renewable energy economy.”

BACKGROUND: President Obama has consistently touted expanded gas and oil production across the United States and including on federal lands — production that has tremendous climate impacts.

An article in the Journal Nature found that in order to have just a 50-50 chance of remaining below a 2-degree (Celsius) temperature increase, about 80 percent of “unconventional” natural gas resources (such as targeted with fracking) and 100 percent of unconventional oil (such as tight oil, tar sands oil and arctic oil) must remain underground.

Food & Water Watch looked at global estimates of unconventional natural gas (excluding methane hydrates) alongside a more conservative CO2 budget (specifically, a budget that corresponds to a 75 percent chance of avoiding 2 degree Celsius increase in global temperature). The analysis found that even assuming a very aggressive phase out of oil and coal, conventional natural gas alone breaks the CO2 budget several times over, and that there is 23 times as much “technically recoverable” fracked gas as can be burned without breaking the budget. In other words, to have a good chance — a 75 percent chance — of staying under 2-degrees of warming, more than 95 percent of the natural gas that companies expect to be able to extract will have to stay underground.

While President Obama is continuing to promote expanded production, other leaders are not blind to the problems. In December Governor Andrew Cuomo took steps to ban fracking in New York, Maryland passed a moratorium on fracking and Congressmembers Mark Pocan and Jan Schakowsky introduced legislation to ban fracking on all federal lands.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. For more information, visit

For more details on the detrimental effects of fracking, including its climate effects, please see our report, The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking.


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EPA Proposes New Commonsense Measures to Cut Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector