New York State extends climate action with announcement of methane reduction initiative

New York’s utilities have been directed to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. To support that goal, the state has developed a “Utility 2.0” program that encourages distributed resources and helps transition the grid to a more modern system.  

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Wednesday announced a new initiative to curb methane emissions from the state’s agricultural, oil and gas, and landfill sectors. According to state data, by weight, methane accounts for 9 percent of the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, but it is the second-largest contributor to climate change, due to its outsized heat-trapping properties.

The announcement of the Methane Reduction Plan specifically called out the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks as a reason the state chose to move forward with its own plan.

“In recent weeks, the federal government has taken steps to abandon three major efforts to address methane pollution,” the release said, noting the administration’s decision not to pursue efforts to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and gas infrastructure, to reconsider its limits on methane emissions from existing oil and gas infrastructure, and to reconsider rules for operations on public lands. The EPA has also rescinded a request for information from oil and gas producers on the amounts of methane they are releasing.

Perhaps ironically, the state has already taken one of the most effective steps it could to limit methane emissions: New York was the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas mining. Methane makes up 80 percent of natural gas, which traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year period.