Biden targets methane emissions, forest protection on Day 2 of COP26

November 2, 2021
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on stage during a meeting at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021.

GLASGOW, Scotland – The Biden administration announced new rules Tuesday to limit methane emissions from oil and gas drilling as well as actions aimed at protecting forests globally, part of a series of measures unveiled by the White House while President Joe Biden appears at the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Scotland. 

As part of Biden’s plan to curb methane gas emissions, first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, there will be a broad expansion and strengthening of measures to regulate leak detection and repairs for the oil and gas industry. The rule follows through on an executive order Biden signed on his first day of office. 

The U.S. and European Union have a goal of reducing methane emissions, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, by 30% below 2020’s level by 2030.

The White House estimates that the EPA rule will cover about 75% of all methane emissions. The Department of the Interior is also planning a new rule to disincentive venting to dispose of gas.

COP26: U.N. summit focuses global attention on climate change crisis

In addition, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will propose a series of new regulations to cover about 400,000 miles of previously unregulated pipelines including new safety requirements, mandatory inspections and oversight of leaks. A separate PHMSA rule will target 2.3 million miles of gas pipes in cities that have previously gone unregulated. 

Biden’s presence at the high-stakes COP26 summit, aimed at tackling the warming planet, comes as he’s been unable to get his climate agenda approved at home, with Democrats in Congress still divided over his $1.75 trillion spending package. 

On the first day of the summit, Biden touted his “build back better” proposal as “the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made, ever.” But until it passes, Biden must rely largely on executive authority for his biggest climate splashes. COP26 runs until Nov. 12. Biden returns to Washington later Tuesday.

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Biden’s plan to conserve forests includes a commitment of up to $9 billion of U.S international climate funding to the effort by 2030, according to a senior White House official who discussed the announcements on the condition of anonymity.  

Other components involve incentives for forest conservation and restoration, and efforts aimed at increasing private investment and data collections for forest protection.

To push for greater innovation, Biden plans to also announce a new “movers coalition” with 25 founding members from technology and other industries – including major companies such as Apple – that will each make commitments on clean energy. He will push companies to use renewable energy to offset electricity demand through a a new procurement platform that businesses can access.

The president will also highlight a “sustainable agriculture sector” and a “next generation of nuclear technology” as key pieces of growing the clean technology economy, the officials said.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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