Methane pollution addressed in historic climate change law

This past August the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law. This act may help transform Montana’s energy future and environmental health outlook. The legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discourage wasteful practices that release methane and other harmful greenhouse gas pollution into the air. The legislation empowers the EPA to limit greenhouse gas pollution from power plants under the Clean Air Act.

In essence, the law establishes the first federal carbon price on greenhouse gas, applying to operations that emit over 25,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year. This is important for Montana because NorthWestern Energy — the state’s largest monopoly power company — unveiled a plan last year to build a new carbon-polluting methane gas plant in Laurel.

Relatedly, the new climate legislation directs the EPA to ensure that accurate emissions data is collected and based on empirical evidence. The law drives investment in technologies that measure and reduce methane pollution. It likely will create incentives for the oil and gas industry to comply with the EPA’s clean air protections or at least will bolster the EPA’s defense if any challenges to the agency’s protections arise later.

Other conservation improvements to our country’s oil and gas industry include increased bonding levels and royalty rates, which provide funds to help ensure timely remediation of new wells and a quicker transition to cleaner, safer, renewable energy sources.

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