Reducing Methane Emissions in Oil and Gas Sector Can Create 50,000 Jobs Over 10 Years, Safeguard Workers, and Address Climate Change

Ground-breaking report shows recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for new and modified sources of methane emissions can stimulate and support quality, family-sustaining jobs, protect workers from dangerous chemicals, and combat climate change.

September 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 22, 2016) The BlueGreen Alliance today released a first-of-its-kind report estimating that 50,000 jobs could be created over the next decade by reducing methane pollution from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry. The EPA finalized standards to limit methane pollution from new and modified sources earlier this year.

The BlueGreen Alliance report, Plugging the Leaks: Protecting Workers, Reducing Pollution, and Creating Quality Jobs by Reducing Methane Waste in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, estimates that nearly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs will be created every year in a variety of sectors—including manufacturing. In addition, with full and continuing adoption of leak-reducing technologies and practices, an estimated 50,000 jobs could be created over the first decade of full implementation of the methane standards.

“These critical standards will encourage the full implementation of technologies that are already on the market to reduce methane emissions and improve America’s infrastructure, and doing so will create good jobs,” said D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “These standards are achievable and affordable, and will help drive a strong American economy, keep our workforce healthy, and address climate change.”

Plugging the Leaks also highlighted that many of the jobs that could be created would be quality jobs. For example, in 2014 the median hourly wage for workers in the methane mitigation industry was $30.88, compared to $19.60 for all U.S. jobs.

“Reducing system-wide methane emissions will create good jobs not just in fixing leaks, but in manufacturing the products needed to do so,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “Cost-effective upgrades will invigorate the U.S. economy by employing tens of thousands of Americans as well ensuring a globally competitive infrastructure that will limit costly methane leaks.”

Methane—the primary component of natural gas—is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Reducing methane emissions can help mitigate the impacts of climate change and has the added benefit of protecting workers and communities living near oil and gas development. When methane leaks, nearby communities and workers in the industry are exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants like benzene, which is a known carcinogen.

“The bottom line is that reducing methane emissions will spur the economy, and protect workers and our communities,” said Gerard.

“Make no mistake: We must sharply cut all climate-changing pollution, and that includes methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, the single largest source of methane emissions in the United States,” said Meleah Geertsma, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Policies that reduce methane emissions can and need to be strengthened, so that we can achieve our international climate goals and lift our economy.”

“Capturing leaking methane pollution is a win-win for wildlife and the economy,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Protecting treasured species and public lands from the ravages of climate change requires the implementation of common-sense solutions using readily available technologies. By taking concrete steps today, we will help conserve our outdoor heritage, while also creating construction and cleanup jobs and helping make companies more profitable by capturing and selling gas currently leaking today.”

“We have always said that building a thriving and fair economy means that we are creating good jobs and protecting the environment at the same time. Methane standards for new and modified sources are a perfect example of how fighting climate change can also create and secure quality jobs across the country,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance.