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Washington Moves to Cut Greenhouse Gases

By EarthX Stories posted 05-07-2021 12:48


 Lisa Friedman

Over the past week, Congress and the Biden administration took their first concrete steps to reduce emissions of two dangerous greenhouse gases: Methane, which is emitted during natural gas extraction and by leaks from oil and gas wells, and hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Both planet-warming gases are many times more potent than carbon dioxide, even though they don’t stay in the atmosphere as long. Scientists say dealing with them is critical to slowing the pace of global warming.

What happened? The Democratic-controlled Senate, using a rarely invoked law to reverse a Trump administration rollback on methane, essentially reinstated an Obama-era regulation imposing controls on leaks of methane from oil and gas wells. And the Environmental Protection Agency moved to implement new curbs on the production and importation of HFCs, which Congress approved late last year.

“By taking fast action on these short-lived climate pollutants, of which HFCs are the most potent, we can buy ourselves some time and actually help avoid climate tipping points,” said Kristen N. Taddonio, a senior climate and energy adviser for the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

What about CO2? That’s trickier. President Biden is urging Congress to pass a clean electricity standard, which would require power providers to get a certain amount of their energy from fossil-fuel-free sources. But that measure faces a long and uncertain road.


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