Methane Action Comments on EPA Methane Rule

Comments of Methane Action On The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Rules for Reducing emissions of methane and other air pollutants From the oil and natural gas sector.


John M. Fitzgerald, J.D.

On behalf of

Methane Action

January 31, 2021

In Re:  40 CFR Parts 60

[EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317; FRL-8510-02-OAR] RIN 2060-AV16

Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review

Via: Subject: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0317

To the Administrator of EPA:

Executive Summary

We highlight in bold the points that Methane Action may be making for the first time or in a unique manner in this formal comment period.[1]

1.  Limit emissions as strictly as possible.

2.  In the final rule or in proposing the second rule of 2022, expedite the use of rapidly developing methods of removing methane from both near the source and further from sources some of which have been shown in peer reviewed papers to be likely to be far more cost effective per CO2e than current carbon capture methods.

3.  Require the states … to consider using their authorities in utility regulation and in the regulation of production, storage, insurance, performance bonding, and other actions, to impose fees or restrictions on methane.

4. … Use your authority under the Independent Offices Appropriations Act to require those subject to permits under the rules to pay… fees.

5. Use the Toxic Substances Control Act, …to require the [major commercial] emitters to reduce, remove and/or retrieve released methane.

6.  Incorporate Section 115 of the CAA to begin the process of building cooperation with Mexico, Canada and others.

7.  In your final rule or next proposal, set out a process for backing methane out of most of its current level of use, production lease sales and permitting while retaining sufficient capacity in the mid-term to help provide essential services for those who have no short term alternatives in the U.S. or in allied countries such as Germany.

8.   Include the most recent, more demanding metrics for evaluating the effects of methane and alternatives for removing methane, CO2 and related pollutants.


            In the following pages I am submitting on behalf of Methane Action formal comments on the above referenced proposed rules for reducing emissions of methane and other air pollutants emitted in the process of producing oil and natural gas and in the transmission and storage of natural gas.

            These comments include our recommendations submitted on July 29th and a supplemental letter of July 30th included here after the main comments of the 29th.  The second letter was prompted by the publication on July 29th of the article “”Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals” by Cathy Bussewitz and Martha Irvine, of the Associated Press published on July 29, 2021 in News (

            Our comments today focus on peer-reviewed articles published after our initial comments of July.  Those articles provide you the basis for a much more thorough reduction and control program than the one that would be accomplished by the proposed rule.

            We will provide our comments in paragraphs, enumerated so as to make responding to each point in the final Federal Register Notice easier for you, for the readers and for any court during judicial review.

1. Limit emissions as strictly as possible. Methane Action joins Environmental Defense Fund, Green America, The Clean Air Task Force, and many other organizations in calling on the EPA to adopt the most thorough emissions reduction requirements possible in each element of the oil and gas sector.[2] 

2.  In the final rule or in proposing the second rule of 2022, establish a process for annually revising the list of “best systems of emission reduction” for each source [3] so as to expedite the use of rapidly developing methods of removing methane from both near the source and further from sources.  To guide you in that process recent articles coauthored by Methane Action Board Member Professor Rob Jackson of Stanford and consulting scientist Dr. Renaud de Richter provide descriptions of methods warranting research and development and cost effectiveness estimates for their implementation.

These include:

Atmospheric methane removal: a research agenda

            Atmospheric methane removal (e.g. in situ methane oxidation to carbon dioxide) may be needed to offset continued methane release and limit the global warming contribution of this potent greenhouse gas. Because mitigating most anthropogenic emissions of methane is uncertain this century, and sudden methane releases from the Arctic or elsewhere cannot be excluded, technologies for methane removal or oxidation may be required. Carbon dioxide removal has an increasingly well-established research agenda and technological foundation. No similar framework exists for methane removal. We believe that a research agenda for negative methane emissions—‘removal’ or atmospheric methane oxidation—is needed. We outline some considerations for such an agenda here, including a proposed Methane Removal Model Intercomparison Project (MR-MIP).[4]  


Perspectives on removal of atmospheric methane[5] — Abstract:

Methane’s contribution to radiative forcing is second only to that of CO2. Though previously neglected, methane is now gaining increasing public attention as a GHG. At the recent COP26 in Glasgow, 105 countries signed “the methane pledge” committing to a 30% reduction in emissions from oil and gas by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. Removal methods are complementary to such reduction, as they can deal with other sources of anthropogenic emissions as well as legacy emissions already accumulated in the troposphere. They can also provide future insurance in case biogenic emissions start rising significantly. This article reviews proposed methods for atmospheric methane removal at a climatically significant scale. These methods include enhancement of natural hydroxyl and chlorine sinks, photocatalysis in solar updraft towers, zeolite catalyst in direct air capture devices, and methanotrophic bacteria. Though these are still at an early stage of development, a comparison is provided with some carbon dioxide removal methods in terms of expected costs. The cheapest method is potentially enhancement of the chlorine natural sink, costing as little as $1.6 per ton CO 2-eq……

3.  In the final rule or your next proposal require the states as they develop state implementation plans to consider using their authorities in utility regulation and in the regulation of production, storage, insurance, performance bonding, and other actions, to impose fees or restrictions upon the production, transmission or large scale commercial use of methane and to explain to the EPA how they intend to use and have used those authorities in fulfilling their duties under Federal law, including but not limited to the Clean Air Act, and state law. [6]

4. In the final rule or your next proposal, as we recommended in July, use your authority under the Independent Offices Appropriations Act to require those subject to permits under the rules to pay such fees as EPA finds are authorized by the IOAA in this context which clearly include EPA’s cost of permitting, monitoring and enforcing the rules and may include an amount sufficient to reflect the social cost of methane as it is set by the Office of Management and Budget and the Interagency Working Group.[7]  IOAA fees are returned to the general treasury but can be appropriated by Congress to reimburse agencies in essence for their work regulating private actions affecting the public.

5. In the final rule or your next proposal, as we recommended in July, incorporate and use the tools you are given in the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended only a few years ago, to determine the extent to which methane presents not only the hazards that warrant its removal under TSCA, and not only a clear and present danger, but on-going harm that TSCA requires the EPA to in turn require the emitters to reduce, remove and/or retrieve.  

The TSCA process as it applies to methane and CO2 is explained by attorney

Dan Galpern in a blog post summarizing a petition he has presented to the EPA for pre-petition consultation, on behalf of himself, climate scientist Jim Hansen, and others of the Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative, to initiate a rulemaking along these lines:

            The methane removal methods described by Jackson, de Richter and others and the cost calculations made by Abernethy, de Richter and others present you with an undeniable opportunity to use the agency’s scientific capacity alone or in cooperation with other agencies and/or the National Laboratories, to adequately demonstrate the effectiveness of these methods that reduce emissions by trapping and converting them near their sources and at a distance in ways that have not heretofore been available. 

            TSCA includes in scope materials, substances and chemicals far beyond those that are directly toxic.  Another article by Rob Jackson et al., however, reveals that one of the very uses for which methane is intended and sold to retail customers emits not only greenhouse gases of leaking methane and carbon dioxide but toxic chemicals directly harmful to human health.

As Inside Climate News put it, in their story entitled, “Gas Stoves in the US Emit Methane Equivalent to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Half a Million Cars“:

Cooking with gas is heating up the climate and filling some homes with hazardous nitrogen oxides in excess of EPA safety standards for outdoor air concentrations.

            The study found that:

            Running gas ovens and stove top burners in small kitchens with poor ventilation resulted in emissions that within a few minutes surpassed the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety standards for outdoor air concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, an irritant that can aggravate asthma and may contribute to the development of the disease. The agency does not have a separate safety standard for indoor air concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.

            Meanwhile an EPA-funded study[8] by the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, published four days ago on January 27th reveals the people over 65 who live within a kilometer of a fracking or directional drilling site have a higher rate of death than those who do not.

            As Harvard put it:

      “Living near or downwind of unconventional oil and gas development linked with increased risk of early death.”[9]

            Thus the presumption of toxicity, hazard and on-going harm to health is established and warrants EPA’s invocation of TSCA.

            The September 27th articles by Jackson and Abernethy on the research agenda and the relative cost effectiveness of methane removal respectively were the subject of considerable attention at a day long Conference on the 28th of September at the Centre for Climate Repair of the University of Cambridge.  Methane Action has briefed representatives of the EPA, DOE and State Departments on these in recent months.

6. In your final rule or next proposal, incorporate Section 115 of the CAA to begin the process of building cooperation with Mexico, Canada and others whose air quality and public health are mutually affected by the methane releases of neighboring countries via climate change, ozone formation, and other means.  We also recommend that EPA work with State and USAID to develop model methane rules with cost effective options addressing all possible sources, and assist other countries in reducing and removing methane bilaterally, as well as preparing to adopt more aggressive targets not only for methane but for warming itself at the next COP based on methane removal methods outlined in these comments and papers cited herein.

7. In your final rule or next proposal, set out a process for backing methane out of most of its current level of use, production lease sales and permitting while retaining sufficient capacity in the mid-term to help provide essential services for those who have no short term options or alternatives in the U.S. or in allied countries such as Germany while at the same time assisting them in making the transition to climate protection and restoration and via renewables, storage, and efficiency. As noted in our section 5 above, the scientific and legal basis for this has been established and confirmed by the studies released in just the past few weeks alone showing harm throughout the life cycle of oil and gas produced by fracking and related unconventional methods.  Thus for EPA to do anything other than to begin a phase out starting with oil and gas produced with these methods within a kilometer of human residences, is to allow by permit unnecessary disease and death of significant proportions.

8.   In your final rule or next proposal, include the most recent, more demanding, metrics for evaluating the effects of methane and alternatives for removing methane, CO2 and related pollutants.

            In that regard please respond in your final rule making to these suggestions we include in these comments including these based on a January 26th paper from Stanford University scientists Abernethy and Jackson and also please respond to our suggestion that you use the same method for estimating the removal rate that would be necessary to restore or come closer to restoring healthier and safer temperature levels and reducing associated weather and ecological damage from that which we are experiencing at 1.1 degrees C already.

“Global temperature goals should determine the time horizons for greenhouse gas emission metrics”[10]


Emission metrics, a crucial tool in setting effective exchange rates between greenhouse gases, currently require an arbitrary choice of time horizon. Here, we propose a novel framework that

calculates the time horizon that aligns with scenarios achieving a specific temperature goal. …

            Excerpts from their informal discussion of that paper follow shortly below.

            It must be understood that the reference to “the Biden Administration’s explicit goal” being to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius was in reference to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement’s COP26 context where changing that goal was not on the formal agenda.  We do not intend to suggest here that the EPA limit its regulations, in this case or others, to measures designed to barely or just meet that goal.  In fact, U.S. law requires the EPA to use the “BSER” or best available control technologies or to remove as much as possible of hazardous pollutants, depending on which section of the U.S. Code is used and which methods are shown to work.  The law is not a license to pollute at any level, if pollution is unnecessary or avoidable and we are rapidly learning how to make do with much less methane and the pollutants caused by it production and use and how to remove those that have been emitted.

            I will note that as one who enjoys a home where rising sea and tidal river levels encroach each year toward our septic system, and higher winds knock down our evergreens and threaten power lines, I will be harmed, perhaps more than the average person, but not more than those subjected to methane induced ozone every day, by EPA’s failure to adopt in regulations the aforementioned suggestions or requests and thus expect to have standing to sue if necessary though we would much rather help shape and enforce strong regulations.

            We appreciate the opportunity to comment and to prepare to join EPA in defense of sound rules or to challenge its rules if in light of the facts we have presented and the laws you are bound to implement, those rules turn our to be arbitrary, capricious or not otherwise in accordance with the law.


John M. Fitzgerald


Methane Action

Appendix — Informal Discussion of better metrics for methane

Summary: Stanford University scientists find a commonly used metric for comparing greenhouse gasses badly underestimates the role of methane. They propose a new metric that better accounts for the potent but short-lived greenhouse gas, and could help more quickly achieve goals for limiting global temperature increases.

Like boxers whose punching power declines over their careers, greenhouse gasses lose their warming impact at different rates. So, to compare gasses’ climate changing potential to the most common greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – international negotiators often use a metric that measures their influence on global warming over a 100-year timeframe. A new Stanford University study published on January 26th in Environmental Research Letters indicates that approach underestimates methane’s importance in achieving the Paris Agreement climate goals by up to 87%. Instead, the scientists propose using a 24-year timeframe instead, [to be] consistent with the goal of keeping global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The researchers argue their approach would ensure emissions of methane, a potent but comparatively short-lived gas, are weighted correctly over the time period before such temperature thresholds are crossed. This, in turn, could help countries more quickly prioritize reducing methane emissions – an essential step toward slowing global warming.

Below, the study’s lead author, Sam Abernethy, and senior author, Rob Jackson, discuss the history of the current global warming potential metric, how a shorter timeframe could help policymakers realign their climate commitments and more.

Jackson is the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor of Energy and Environment in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.Abernethy is a PhD student in applied physics and earth system science who works in Jackson’s lab. The study was funded by a seed grant from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Why is the 100-year time horizon commonly used for emissions metrics?

Jackson: Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Nitrous oxide tends to last a century or so. Methane’s lifetime is closer to a decade.  The 100-year timeframe is both a compromise and a convenient round number acknowledging the different lifetimes of greenhouse gases.

Abernethy: Going back to the early Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, 20, 100 and 500-year time horizons were used as representative examples for which time horizons could be chosen. It seems like 100 years was chosen for the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent climate policy mainly just because it is the middle value of these three.

If international climate change agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, target temperature goals, why haven’t they incorporated into emissions metrics time horizons that specifically account for those goals?

Abernethy: That question led me to do this research, and write this paper. One answer is that there wasn’t previously a way to do this before the development of a scenario database of potential future climate pathways. I think another aspect is that the Paris Agreement goals are sufficiently vague that you have to pick one specific aspect to focus on. I looked at the temperature goal, but there is also a goal to have net zero emissions.

How might a 24-year time horizon alter the way we judge countries’ climate commitments and what the world needs to do to reach goals set by the Paris Agreement?

Jackson: We need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in all scenarios, near and far. The more aggressive the temperature goal is, however, the more important potent, shorter-lived greenhouse gases such as methane become. To keep global temperature increases below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the two Paris Agreement goals – countries need to commit to reducing methane emissions faster. In truth, some countries have yet to make methane commitments at all.

Abernethy: Using a shorter time horizon, such as 24 years, would alter the magnitudes of commitments already made by valuing methane reductions significantly more. It would also align the commitments with the Paris Agreement temperature goals. This would result in countries with aggressive methane mitigation plans and pledges having their actions towards methane reduction be more highly valued and therefore more incentivized. 

What are some examples of how and why political perspectives and vested interests might favor certain time horizon?

Abernethy: Since the variation in emission metrics is so huge between 20- and 100-year time horizons, there is substantial opportunity to use whichever number best suits you for your application. Perhaps countries with huge dairy and agricultural industries would prefer to downplay methane and use a 100-year timeframe. Those who want to draw attention to methane, such as opponents of liquefied natural gas, would prefer a 20-year timeframe.

What are some likely examples of how your approach could be used by policymakers to plan for specific climate goals, e.g. net zero emissions?

Abernethy: I think that our approach should be used by policymakers to choose emission metrics that align with the specific climate goal of temperature stabilization, and then use these emission metrics to define what it means to have net zero emissions.

Jackson: The Biden administration’s explicit goal is to stabilize global temperature increases below 1.5 °C. Yet the EPA uses a GWP for methane of 25, below even the commonly used value for a 100-year timeframe. The EPA’s value for methane mitigation is out of step—at least three times too low—with realizing the administration’s target.

Comments made response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s solicitation of public input on the agency’s efforts to reduce emissions of methane and other air pollutants from the oil and natural gas sector are posted at Methane Action Comments on EPA Methane Rule, July 30, 2021

Comments In Response to The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s solicitation of public input onthe Agency’s efforts to reduce emissions of methane and other pollutants from the oil and natural gas sector.


John M. Fitzgerald, J.D.[39]

July 30, 2021

To the Administrator of EPA:

            In addition to the comments I submitted yesterday on behalf of Methane Action and Remineralize the Earth, I would like to point out that EPA’s legal authorities and duties could most effectively be deployed to address the full range of pollutants leaking into water, soil and air from oil and gas facilities. These pollutants and responses to them extend beyond air pollution but they are related to the same sites and sector.  From the operations, insurance, legal liability and remedial standpoints, the EPA would do well to develop a more comprehensive approach to that sector for application in the U.S. and, in cooperation with other agencies, in relation to the actions and exports of other countries.

            In addition to the Clean Air Act and other provisions covered in yesterday’s comments, the EPA, and in some cases such as oil spills, the President, has the authority and duty to correct these problems.

            Therefore EPA should coordinate a national program involving state and local authorities to clean and plug oil and gas wells to remove and prevent further air, water and soil pollution from active, inactive, abandoned and orphaned wells and fracking sites.

            I was prompted to submit these additional comments upon reading “Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals” by Cathy Bussewitz and Martha Irvine, of the Associated Press published on July 29, 2021 in News ( Given the deadline there is no time to circulate these comments for approval or sign on by these organizations so I am filing them on behalf of myself.

            I will summarize in brief some of the laws that apply or should be interpreted to apply to the pollutants that can contaminate the water, air or both and living things such as protected species, commercial and sport fish, and humans.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. §§2701 et seq.) establishes that parties responsible for oil spills are liable for the costs of cleaning them up and the damage they cause.  It also created a Federal fund to pay for the containment and removal of spilled oil from onshore and offshore sites.  The fund can be used to compensate persons for damage as well.  While the EPA and others have tended to view this as limited to large oil spills the Act does not appear to limit the size of the spills or the term “spill” but rather appears to allow the President to direct the use of the fund in any reasonable manner to contain and clean up oil that is not where it should be.

Wildlife Law — In addition to often leaking crude oil and VOCs such as benzene into the ground water, such wells tend to produce “produced salt water” both in the traditional extraction process and even more in fracking.  This salty water can poison fresh water plants animals, such as freshwater mussels, some of which are threatened, endangered or otherwise protected species under Federal and state law.  Pools of spilled oil that harm birds give rise to liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Any Federal action that may affect a listed species must first undergo a Biological Assessment by the Action agency to inform a Biological Opinion from the USFWS or NMFS. A non-Federal action that takes a listed species is a violation of §9 of the Endangered Species Act unless covered by a habitat conservation plan and/or permitted taking.

The Clean Water Act — Once the water leaves the ground and flows into wetlands or streams it becomes subject to the Clean Water Act which limits the kind and amount of materials and actions that may be allowed to pollute the waters and wetlands of the United States.

The Toxic Substances Control Act directs the EPA to assess the hazards presented by a substance and to require limits on its use and the retrieval of it if necessary.

State Law

            States retain the right to adopt additional controls on oil and gas pollution, regardless of abandonment.  Pennsylvania, the home of thousands of old oil and gas wells, has laws that can require landowners to control pollution from wells they did not create:

            Of particular concern to the landowners is a phrase buried in Section 691.316 of the Clean Streams Law. Pursuant to this section, the PA DEP can order a “landowner” to correct a condition on the land, which is polluting the waters of the Commonwealth. The term “landowner” is defined as “any person holding title to or having a proprietary interest in the surface or subsurface rights.” See, 35 P.S. § 691.316. Pennsylvania courts have interpreted this section broadly and have noted that cleanup liability can be imposed even if the landowner was not at fault in causing the pollution. See, Adams Sanitation Company v. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 715 A.2d 390 (Pa. 1998) (“…the DEP can lawfully require an owner or occupier of land to correct a condition which exists on the land…regardless of whether that party caused or knew of the existence of the pollution”). See also, Western Pa. Water Co. v. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 560 A.2d 904 (Pa. Commw. 1989) (“…fault is not a prerequisite to establishing liability under Section 316 of the Clean Streams Law”). To the extent an orphan well and brine tank are discharging “pollution” into a nearby stream or wetlands, a landowner could theoretically be liable for the cleanup costs under Section 691.316. [40]

CERCLA (“Superfund”)

            This landowner duty to clean up hazardous materials may arise as well under the Federal Superfund:

Likewise, a landowner should be aware of potential cleanup liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA impose environmental liability from a broad range of “responsible parties” including the owner of a “facility”. The term “facility” is defined as “any site or area where a hazardous substance has…come to be located.” See, 42 U.S.C. §9601(9)(B). This clause could be interpreted to include an abandoned well pad site and adjacent equipment. Although CERCLA contains a well-publicized exemption for oil and gas drilling operations, this exemption does not apply to any waste materials or by-products that were “mixed” with the petroleum and thereafter were allowed to contaminate the land. See, United States v. Gurley, 43 F.3d 1188 (8th Circuit 1994) (holding that waste products associated with drilling were not subject to the CERCLA petroleum exemption). In the case of a leaking or contaminated orphan well, there is a potential liability risk under CERCLA. As such, any landowner purchasing property with abandoned or orphaned wells must seek appropriate protection and indemnification from the seller.[41]

Trade Law

            The border carbon tariff being considered by the U.S. and European Commission now should take into account and reflect not only greenhouse gases released but also other pollutants released by the oil, gas and coal industries and those industries that use them.  As our comments yesterday noted, Mexico and some other countries emit on the average more methane and related pollution from oil and gas extraction.  These pollutants can affect the air and waters of other nations in violation of international law.  Every nation that allows any appreciable pollution is responsible for cleaning it up with increasingly available means but no nation should subsidize the pollution of another.

            Thank you.

[1] Methane Action and its counsel, John Fitzgerald, have made several of these points to EPA in written testimony in July 2021 and in oral testimony and meetings thereafter, but this is the first time that several of these have been made by anyone to our knowledge in and for this formal comment period.

[2] For example, See the Clean Air Taskforce report “Reducing Methane from Oil and Gas —

A Path to a 65% Reduction in Sector Emissions”.

[3] Under section 111(b), EPA identifies the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) that has been adequately demonstrated to control emissions of a particular pollutant from a particular type of source, and sets a standard for new sources based on the application of that BSER.

[4]  Jackson RB et al . !”!#

 Atmospheric methane removal: a research

agenda. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A —

[5]   TingzhenMingaWeiLibQingchunYuancPhilipDaviesdRenaudde RichtereChongPengfQihongDenggYanpingYuanhSylvainCailloliNanZhouj,

[6] See letter to EPA of July 30, 2021 for examples, below.  See also, “The Future of Wind Energy” by Christine Real de Azua, 14 Tulane Environmental Law Journal Issue 2, 486 – 523, Summer 2001 and in particular, Section V., Subsection B. “Economic and Financial Incentives: A Panoply of Potentially Effective Tools”, at 511.

[7] The social cost of methane emissions was set most recently at $1,756 per short ton by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, compared to $68 for carbon dioxide. Both metrics estimate the economic damages of releasing emissions into the atmosphere.


[9] Ibid.

[10]  — by Sam Abernethy1,2, Robert B. Jackson2,3

1 Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, USA

2 Department of Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, USA

3 Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, Stanford, USA

[11] John M. Fitzgerald is a former House Subcommittee Counsel and Legislative Aide handling energy and environment where he helped to staff the Congressional Solar Energy Caucus. He is former chief counsel, policy director and current board member of conservation science and policy non-profit organizations.  Contributing organizations include in addition to Methane Action, OceansX, Remineralize the Earth, Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative, and members of Restore Our Climate, as well as numerous individual climate, chemistry, and other experts primarily in the U.S. and Europe.

[12] From EPA’s May 12th announcement: file: …EPA/EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0295-0001_content%20(1).pdf –“This memorandum authorizes the posting of EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0295 to for public access. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the opening of a non-rulemaking docket for public input. The purpose of this docket is to solicit public input on the Agency’s efforts to reduce emissions of methane and other air pollutants from new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector in order to further the Administration’s policies as described in Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” The goal of this non-rulemaking docket and other public engagement efforts is to gather perspectives from a broad group of stakeholders for the oil and natural gas sector, including individuals and communities that experience disproportionate adverse health and environmental impacts as a result of oil and natural gas operations.


[14] See reporting by Juliet Eilperin and Andy Revkin on fossil fuel companies ignoring the scientific warnings of their employees and the analysis of public trust law in ATMOSPHERIC RECOVERY LITIGATION: MAKING THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY PAY TO RESTORE A VIABLE CLIMATE SYSTEM BY MARY CHRISTINA WOOD* & DAN GALPERN** in the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation —
[15] See also, World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021 William J RippleChristopher WolfThomas M NewsomeJillian W GreggTimothy M LentonIgnacio PalomoJasper A J EikelboomBeverly E LawSaleemul HuqPhilip B DuffyBioScience, biab079,,
“Given the impacts we are seeing at roughly 1.25 degrees Celsius (°C) warming, combined with the many reinforcing feedback loops and potential tipping points, massive-scale climate action is urgently needed. The remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C was recently estimated to have a 17% chance of being negative, indicating that we may already have lost the opportunity to limit warming to this level without overshoot or risky geoengineering (Matthews et al. 2021). Because of the limited time available, priorities must shift toward immediate and drastic reductions in dangerous short-lived greenhouse gases, especially methane (UNEP/CCAC 2021).”…

“To address this fundamental overexploitation, we echo the call made by Ripple and colleagues (2020) to change course in six areas: (1) energy, eliminating fossil fuels and shifting to renewables; (2) short-lived air pollutants, slashing black carbon (soot), methane, and hydrofluorocarbons; (3) nature, restoring and permanently protecting Earth’s ecosystems to store and accumulate carbon and restore biodiversity; …”

[16] 15 U.S.C. §2604

[17] 15 U.S. Code § 2605 – Prioritization, risk evaluation, and regulation of chemical substances and mixtures

[18] “The measures finalized in this action achieve reductions of GHG and VOC emissions through direct regulation and reduction of [hazardous air pollutant] HAP emissions as a cobenefit of reducing VOC emissions. The data show that these are cost-effective measures to reduce emissions and the rule’s benefits outweigh these costs. (, at 35827).

[19] ( 


[21] See,

[22] We and/or our allies expect to work with the EPA beyond filing this comment to craft specific research and regulatory steps including but not limited to commenting on the rule or rules EPA proposes in or by September.  In that process we expect to provide more specific suggestions as warranted, but do not wish here to limit the scope of EPA’s review.

[23] “Decommissioning Orphaned and Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells: New Estimates and Cost Drivers”, Daniel Raimi* et al. Environmental. Science and Technology, July 14, 2021,

[24] A fact sheet said to summarize an agreement on a bi-partisan Infrastructure bill was circulated among U.S. climate activists on July 28th.  It included the following paragraph: Environmental Remediation. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites are now idle – sources of blight and pollution. 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall. Proximity to a Superfund site can lead to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood. The deal invests $21 billion in environmental remediation, making the largest investment in addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities and neighborhoods in American history, creating good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities and advancing economic and environmental justice. The bill includes funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells (Emphasis added).

[25] “Methane removal and atmospheric restoration Zeolites and other technologies should be evaluated and pursued for reducing methane concentrations in the atmosphere from 1,860 ppb to preindustrial levels of ~750 ppb. Such a goal of atmospheric restoration provides a positive framework for change at a time when climate action is desperately needed.” R. B. Jackson, E. I. Solomon, J. G. Canadell, M. Cargnello and C. B. Field, in Nature Sustainability, 20 May 2019.


[27] Atmospheric Pollution Research, Volume 12, Issue 5, May 2021, 101035, TingzhenMingab Renaud deRichterc FranzDietrichOested RobertTulipe  SylvainCaillolf


[29] —,Nitrous%20Oxide%20at%20%2418%2C000%2Fmt.

[30] ( March 1, 2121.)

[31] The figures in this section were compiled by Ph.D. economists familiar with Federal cost-benefit calculations who are volunteering to help Methane Action.

[32] Swiss Re is the world’s largest reinsurance company and has been reporting on losses attributable to climate change for at least twenty years.  In 2001, the USAID Policy Bureau discussed its recent report that climate change induced damage was the second largest loss category of the previous year globally. (John Fitzgerald served in the Policy Bureau of USAID at the time.)

[33] See note 17.  These are estimates of experts in the field of cost-benefit calculations for Federal regulatory procedures.

[34] ((Nisbet et al. (2020, Reviews of Geophysics), Section 2.1) 

[35] (UNEP 2021

[36] (, at 35827)

[37], 35827-35829.

[38] See, e.g. testimony of EDF’s attorneys and scientists on the docket for this round of input on new methane rules which testimony notes greater relative emissions from older, low producing wells, for example.

[39] John M. Fitzgerald is a former House Subcommittee Counsel and Legislative Aide handling energy and environment.  He helped to staff the Congressional Solar Energy Caucus. He is former chief counsel, policy director and former and current board member of conservation science and policy non-profit organizations. As a legislative aide to a Member serving on the Committees of jurisdiction, and then chief counsel to Defenders of Wildlife, and Policy Director of the Society for Conservation Biology, he helped to write Superfund (CERCLA 1980), the Oil Spill Act of 1990, 1988 amendments to the Endangered Species Act, the mandatory carbon tariff provisions of the House-passed Markey-Waxman climate legislation and other laws.

[40] Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells – More Than Just a Rusty Eyesore

By Robert J. Burnett of Houston-Harbaugh, Attorneys at Law, Pittsburgh, PA — accessed July 30, 2021.

[41] Ibid.

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