Plugging the Leaks: Protecting Workers, Reducing Pollution, and Creating Quality Jobs by Reducing Methane Waste in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry

This report finds that full and continuing adoption of leak reducing technologies and practices at new and modified oil and gas facilities would suggest creation of over 50,000 jobs over a decade.

September 22, 2016
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Reducing methane emissions in the United States is yet another example of how America’s environmental challenges can also be economic opportunities. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and the second largest contributor to climate change, and reducing methane emissions can reap economic benefits for workers and communities across the country.

Plugging the Leaks estimates that nearly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs will be created annually in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing. With full and continuing adoption of leak reducing technologies and practices at new and modified oil and gas facilities, this would suggest creation of over 50,000 jobs over the first decade of full implementation of methane standards.

Activities in the U.S. oil and gas industry are the largest source of methane emissions. While this can be due to accidental leaks, more often these emissions are due to outmoded practices and obsolete technology utilized by the industry in the gathering, transmission, production and processing of natural gas. Lost and leaking natural gas costs billions of dollars every year—nationwide, these activities waste the amount of gas it takes to heat nearly 7 million homes.

This report examines the impacts of anticipated investment in cleaner technologies incentivized by this standard by measuring the resulting employment effects. This federal standard would achieve cost-effective methane emissions reductions and provide greater certainty about Clean Air Act permitting requirements for new and modified upstream natural gas activities, such as the gathering, transmission, production, and processing of natural gas. Low-cost solutions already exist to plug industrial gas leaks, which are being deployed by many companies, however most of the industry has failed to adopt these safeguards.

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