By: Reuters – A group of nearly 150 environmental justice groups urged the Biden administration on Wednesday to abandon talks with global energy companies on standards for certified natural gas, a form of the fuel that producers market as climate-friendly, but that critics say undermines the transition from fossil fuels.
The United States has held talks with energy companies and foreign officials on gas certification as it ships large amounts of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Europe to displace Russian gas amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Gas Leaks, and other green groups argued the discussions are a diversion from President Joe Biden’s pledge to move toward cleaner energy sources and endanger public health.
“While we strongly support robust and well-enforced regulations to cut methane leaks from the oil and gas sector, we oppose efforts that aim to provide ‘extra credit’ which the gas industry uses to promote growth in the production, trade, and consumption of methane gas,” they wrote in a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
A Department of Energy spokesperson said the agency “is not introducing or endorsing any natural gas certification measures or standards.” It is working with gas importing and exporting countries to develop an approach to measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification of emissions that “provides consistency and accountability,” and aligns with the administration’s plan on methane emissions, the spokesperson added.
While gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, its main component is the powerful greenhouse gas methane, which can leak into the atmosphere — a top complaint from environmentalists, whose support is key as Biden ramps up his 2024 re-election campaign.
Gas producers have attempted to market certified gas at a premium for years, using third-party certifiers to prove the fuel was produced and transported in ways that minimize emissions.
But a lack of unified standards for measuring and verifying emissions across the supply chain has limited low-carbon gas markets. Certifiers rely on competing measurement technologies and differing methodologies for interpreting the data.
Brad Crabtree, a Department of Energy official, met privately with companies on the issue in March and told Reuters standards are needed because the “downside of all the innovation and creativity is that it also is very chaotic.”
The Differentiated Gas Coordinating Council, an industry group seeking to make certified gas an option for meeting climate goals, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Scientists have long warned that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions mainly from burning fossil fuels, will make heat waves more frequent, severe, and deadly. They say governments need to drastically reduce emissions to prevent climate catastrophe.