California Methane Controls May Point the Way for Mexico
New methane controls in California might be just the example Mexico needs as it ramps up its own oil and gas production, the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund suggests in a post this week on The Energy Collective.
With an initial round of bidding last December on a collection of deepwater oil and gas leases, Mexico opened the door to global fossils like ExxonMobil and Chevron for the first time since the 1930s. But “all of this is happening while Mexico is demonstrating remarkable climate leadership, and while countries and energy companies around the world are beginning to act on controlling methane, a harmful pollutant that routinely escapes from the global oil and gas industry,” EDF notes.
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One highlight was President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to Ottawa last year, where he signed a trilateral methane reduction agreement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama.
Mexico is the world’s fifth-largest oil and gas emitter, and “absent strong rules for future development, these emissions could steadily rise,” EDF notes. But “policies to reduce methane are incredibly cost-effective, and many jurisdictions have already begun to develop and implement regulations to address this powerful pollutant.” And “getting the rules right in Mexico before the energy boom happens makes sense—it’s a lot smarter to require a clean industry from the start rather than trying to clean it up years after it arrives.”
Enter California, which has just finalized America’s strongest regulations for regulating methane emissions from oil and gas—driven in part by the 112-day, five billion-cubic-foot Aliso Canyon gas leak, the worst accidental greenhouse gas discharge in U.S. history. “It is squarely in Mexico’s interest to ensure that all oil and gas companies operating within its borders meet the same environmental safety standards required elsewhere,” writes EDF’s Drew Nelson, particularly in light of methane’s climate-busting impact as a short-lived greenhouse gas.
“This urgency has a silver lining,” Nelson notes. “Because methane is so potent, reducing it will have quick and powerful climate impact. For example, cutting global oil and gas methane emissions 45% by 2025 would have the same short-term climate benefit as closing one-third of the world’s coal plants.” By drawing on California’s experience, “Mexico has a great chance to leverage its pending energy boom to help, rather than hinder, its efforts to meet its international methane pledge.”