Cuomo announces plans for NYS to cut methane emissions

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ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Wednesday to reduce methane emissions from the landfill, oil and gas and agricultural sectors across the state.

The plan will be implemented by the 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.

Cuomo is directing implementation of these actions by 2020 as part of the 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,” 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.”

The governor’s office noted that 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, 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 Cuomo’s leadership on climate has New York state leading the nation in addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The methane reduction plan will both reduce the emissions changing our climate and create new opportunities for food donations and organics recycling,” Seggos said.

The plan will pursue methane reductions at both active and inactive landfills; reduce methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas infrastructure; and support energy production or capture and combustion of methane gas at farms and landfills.

Plans are also intended to 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.

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