A new study from the BlueGreen Alliance on economic impacts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental methane rule released in November 2022 found the adoption of leak reducing technologies and practices at new, modified, and existing oil and gas facilities would create over 136,000 job-years through 2035. A job-year represents an increase in demand for employment sufficient to employ one person for a full year.
The analysis highlighted positive employment impacts from the proposed standards from investments in emissions reduction technologies—specifically in leak detection and reduction systems, which are more labor intensive than current leak detection technology and practices used by the oil and gas extraction industry. The assessment found that over 10,000 net direct and indirect jobs will be created annually in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, construction, and operations and maintenance. This is a two-fold increase in jobs compared to our analysis of the 2016 rule.
“The EPA’s proposed rule will prevent unnecessary methane leaks in our nation’s oil and gas industry, resulting in good jobs for workers, reducing methane emissions driving climate change, and protecting workers and communities,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “However, we still need to ensure that the jobs created are good-paying, safe, accessible union jobs. This means supporting and growing pathways into good union jobs.”
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and one of the largest contributors to climate change. In addition to the economic benefits for workers, the anticipated investments discussed in the report could bring about emission reductions equivalent to the natural gas consumption of nearly 19.7 million households each year from 2023 to 2035.
“Unnecessary methane leaks in the oil and gas industry represent a health risk for workers and communities around facilities,” said BlueGreen Alliance Legislative Director Dr. Katie Harris, a co-author of the report.
When methane is emitted from oil and gas infrastructure like wells, compressor stations, and processing plants workers and communities are exposed to other dangerous compounds, such as volatile organic compounds (commonly called VOCs) and carcinogens like benzene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde. Across the country, nearly 14 million people face cancer risk due to oil and gas operations.
“The EPA has proposed a rule and now we need them to follow through and finalize it. The technology exists to find and fix these unnecessary leaks and doing so will benefit workers, the environment, and public health,” said Harris.
The White House will be convening leaders from around the country tomorrow in Washington, D.C. to discuss methane mitigation. Jason Walsh will be speaking on a panel at the event.
Plugging the Leaks: Protect Workers, Reduce Pollution, and Create Quality Jobs by Reducing Methane Waste in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry can be found online here: https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/pluggingtheleaks.