A growing number of aging or abandoned oil and gas wells around the country — some of which are leaking methane — could spawn a new industry in Texas and beyond, according to a report from the University of Texas and the Texas Climate Jobs Project (TCJP).
At issue are methane pollution regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In an effort to reduce the amount of heat-trapping fumes escaping the ground, the rules would likely result in crews tasked with monitoring drill sites, fixing leaking equipment, and plugging abandoned wells, according to a report by Inside Climate News.
In the Lone Star State, known for its oil and gas production, the result could be up to 35,000 jobs geared to make sure the wells aren’t leaking.
“We want to show that environmental policies are not job killers,” Christopher Agbo, research and policy coordinator for the TCJP, told Inside Climate News. “You can create tens of thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs while also cutting back on emissions.”
The EPA’s regulations, which are yet to be final, would cut methane output 87% below 2005 levels by 2030, Inside Climate News reports. A methane fee targeting large polluters is set to start in 2024, docking polluters $900 per ton, jumping to $1,500 a ton two years later.
Cutting methane leaks is important because the gas contributes to the overheating of our planet. The Earth’s temperature has increased about 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit every decade since 1880. That’s about 2 degrees total. The heating has accelerated since the 1980s, all according to Climate.gov.
Texas has an opportunity to set a standard when it comes to providing for cleaner air — while also pumping more jobs into the energy sector.
“We are the largest emitter of methane in the country,” Agbo said to Inside Climate News. “So, all this funding and regulations toward methane mitigation are going to play a huge role in Texas.”
The proposal also has the support of Texas AFL-CIO, a large labor federation that includes 235,000 union members.
“Methane mitigation is an industry that could create many jobs for Texans that can improve job standards in our state,” federation President Rick Levy said in his foreword for the TCJP report. “This report calls on local leaders and policymakers to ensure that the jobs created from the methane mitigation industry are family-sustaining jobs filled with highly trained workers.”
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