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Dear Secretary Granholm,

On behalf of (millions) of supporters and oil and gas impacted communities, we write to urge the Department of Energy to stop any efforts to develop a “certified gas” standard." 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. Such growth is entirely out of sync with climate goals and endangers public health. No amount of methane pollution is safe, and gas and oil operations will never be able to eliminate all leaks completely.

Gas certification is a dangerous diversion. Certifying and promoting lower-emissions gas has the potential to undermine the transition away from fossil fuels, the number one strategy to alleviate the climate crisis. As recent announcements from BP and Shell show, the oil and gas industry is already using the “low emissions” narrative to reverse course on climate goals and increase the production and transportation of methane gas far into the future.

A DOE standard would only bolster the industry's effort to misrepresent methane gas as part of the long-term solution to the climate crisis, when the scientific consensus makes it clear that it is not. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called for an immediate pivot away from fossil fuels, including no new oil and gas investments, starting in 2021. The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions Scenario, which charts a course for energy sector emissions to align with a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, clearly shows that even with ambitious methane emissions mitigation, gas production must decline by at least 22% by 2030 and 72% by 2050 compared to 2021 levels. Therefore, it is clear that methane emissions mitigation must go hand-in-hand with a phase-out of gas production rather than be presented as a solution to the methane gas climate issue.

Fossil fuel development is inherently risky beyond the air pollution it produces. Despite the fact that oil and gas wastes often contain hazardous and even radioactive properties, they are exempt from parts of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, our federal hazardous waste law. And hydraulic fracturing poses a threat to drinking water resources because of the “Halliburton loophole” that exempts it from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oil and gas-impacted communities also face noise and light pollution, congested, damaged roads, and increased traffic accidents. Methane pollution isn’t just a problem at the point of extraction. It leaks – or is purposefully released – from more than 3 million miles of gas pipelines that crisscross the country. And it leaks from the appliances inside homes, schools and businesses – even when they’re turned off. Certification programs will do next to nothing to address these sources of methane pollution, and could even make them worse by providing a justification for the continued expansion of the gas system.

Despite scientific consensus around the need to transition away from methane gas, the gas system is being expanded at an alarming pace, counter to agreed upon climate goals. The industry is planning to double or triple export capacity on the Gulf Coast, polluting the air and water in communities of color. It has applied for permits for more than 469 miles of new major gas pipelines, and a new building is connected to the gas system once a minute in the United States.

Setting a standard for “certified gas” risks contributing to a public perception that the gas system is getting “cleaner,” giving the fossil fuel industry cover to continue expanding the use of methane gas for decades, instead of clean electricity. We know that the best way to curb air pollution from fossil fuel production, distribution, and use is to begin a managed transition away from it.

Furthermore, there is insufficient proof that creating a market where so-called "certified gas" can be bought and sold at a premium has any impact on reducing total methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. On the contrary, a recent study from Earthworks and Oil Change International revealed numerous on-the-ground failures to detect oil and gas pollution by one of the largest gas certification companies. It is alarming that the DOE is considering developing a "clean gas" standard despite these emerging certification programs aren't actually effective at detecting and therefore reducing sector-wide emissions.

As we have outlined, all gas that is produced comes with significant immediate and long-term consequences. The appearance of methane reductions cannot be an excuse for continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. We urge you to announce publicly that you will not set a standard for “certified gas” by any name, and instead support stronger methane regulations, help ensure that the oil and gas industry has a credible plan for winding down the production and use of gas, and support policies that further hasten the expansion of fossil-fuel free energy. We would be happy to discuss our concerns further in a meeting with Department of Energy staff.


Open letter to the Department of Energy:
Gas certification is a dangerous diversion



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