Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Methane Reduction Plan, a suite of 25 actions to reduce methane emissions from the landfill, oil and gas, and agricultural sectors across the state. The plan will be implemented by the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation, Agriculture and Markets, Public Service, and the Energy Research and Development Authority, in conjunction with the Soil and Water Conservation Committee. The Governor is directing the state’s implementation of these actions by 2020 as part of New York State’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels.
“With this action, New York will continue to shrink our carbon footprint by reducing emissions that contribute to climate change,” Governor Cuomo said. “This administration has made remarkable progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and with this plan, we take a major step in securing a cleaner, greener New York for all.”
Methane is second only to carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change. Representing almost 10 percent of the state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, methane reduction is a key piece of New York’s policies to address the risks from climate change. The plan will lower methane emissions, establish more robust monitoring methods so that methane sources can be fully documented, increase support and knowledge sharing among agencies and partners, and seek stakeholder involvement to enhance current regulatory and funding programs.
In recent weeks, the federal government has taken steps to abandon three major efforts to address methane pollution. On March 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dropped its development of a regulatory approach to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and gas infrastructure. EPA has also indicated that the agency is reconsidering its 2016 standards limiting emissions from new oil and gas development. In addition, the federal government is seeking to repeal or weaken Department of Interior rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas projects on federal lands.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership on climate, New York State effectively leads the nation—and sets an example for world—when it comes to taking real action to address the threat of climate change. The Methane Reduction Plan will both reduce the emissions changing our climate and create new opportunities for food donations and organics recycling.”
The plan will address many sources of methane emissions including:
- Pursue methane reductions at both active and inactive landfills;
- Limit methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas infrastructure;
- Support energy production or capture and combustion of methane gas at farms and landfills;
- Develop methane reduction criteria in state-funded programs for agriculture;
- Deploy methane detection systems to enhance detection of leaks in residential areas; and
- Utilize incentive programs for addressing methane leakage in utility and customer-owned pipelines that prioritize safety and climate change mitigation.
John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “This is the latest step under Governor Cuomo’s leadership to ensure our environment is cleaner and healthier for all New Yorkers. The actions outlined in the Methane Reduction Plan to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions will help the State meet its nation-leading energy goals and provide cleaner air for generations to come.”
Department of Public Service CEO Gregg Sayre said, “Safe and reliable gas service is our priority at the Department of Public Service where we are accelerating the replacement of leak-prone pipes and working with utilities to install the latest methane detection systems. We fully support the Governor’s plan as part of our comprehensive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we will be looking at ways to incorporate methane reduction into future orders affecting the gas systems in New York.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Evidence of the changing climate is all around us and Governor Cuomo is committed to addressing this serious problem through strategic clean energy initiatives. The Methane Reduction Plan is another common sense measure to reduce our impact on the environment and ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. The agricultural industry plays a crucial role in carrying that plan forward and the Department looks forward to strengthening its support for methane reduction on farms across the State.”
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, “Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and the second largest contributor to climate change. A methane molecule is approximately 100 times more potent in trapping heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide. The multi-sector approach to methane reduction is an essential part of the process to meet the state’s emission reduction goals. By understanding where the emissions are coming from, we can create effective, targeted plans to minimize or eliminate them. I applaud the Governor for his action on this critical issue.”
To learn more, visit the DEC Office of Climate Change at http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/99223.html.