top of page

Controlling Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions (U.S)


  • The industry is responsible for over 30% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, including indirect emissions from the sector's electricity use.

  • The main source of methane produced by humans in the US is the oil and gas industry.

  • President Biden issued an Executive Order in January 2021 ordering government agencies to evaluate the decisions made under the previous administration.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are produced exclusively by industrial activities like manufacturing, food processing, mining, and building. These emissions come from a variety of processes, such as the on-site burning of fossil fuels for heat and power, the use of fossil fuels for other purposes, and chemical processes used in the manufacturing of iron, steel, and cement.

In addition, the centrally generated electricity that industrial uses produce indirect emissions. About one-fourth of all electricity sales in the United States are in the industrial sector. When direct and indirect emissions are added together, the industrial sector leads all other economic sectors in terms of emissions, accounting for 29.6% of all emissions.

Reducing Industrial Emissions

Energy efficiency, fuel switching, combined heat and power, the use of renewable energy, more efficient material use, and recycling are just a few of the strategies that can be used to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector. In order to permanently reduce emissions from a number of industrial operations, carbon capture and storage will be necessary.


The fastest-growing greenhouse gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are substances often used in air conditioning, foam blowing, refrigeration, and other applications. HFCs can significantly contribute to climate change because to their high global warming potential, which is hundreds of times more than that of carbon dioxide. Efforts to minimise HFC emissions in the near future will dramatically lessen expected temperature increases over the following decades because of their high emission rates and short atmospheric lives (compared to carbon dioxide).

The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 orders the EPA to manage these HFCs and their alternatives, undertake an 85% phasedown of regulated HFC production and use over a 15-year period, and ease the switch to next-generation technology. After adoption, EPA has 270 days to issue regulations for the phase-down of HFCs (by September 16, 2021).

Oil and Gas Production

The largest man-made source of methane in the United States and the second largest contributor to climate change is oil and gas extraction. Methane may unintentionally leak during production. For safety at the wellhead or to lessen pressure from machinery or pipelines, it can also be purposefully released or vented to the atmosphere.

Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Address the Climate Crisis, was issued by President Biden in January 2021 and instructed federal agencies to evaluate activities performed over the previous four years. The Executive Order requests, among other things, that the EPA consider, by September 2021, suspending or altering a 2020 technical update to the new source performance standards (NSPS) for the oil and gas industry. The Executive Order also directs the EPA to consider September 2021 drafting regulations for methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from ongoing oil and gas operations.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the 2020 methane rule was repealed by Congress in June 2021, and President Biden signed the measure into law. The law reinstates the stricter 2016 methane regulation.

The 2016 oil and gas new source performance standards (NSPS) were effectively repealed in August 2020 by two amendments that the EPA published under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act (the 2020 methane rule). These changes repealed the NSPS that applied to those sources, the methane-specific production and processing segment requirements under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, and the transportation and storage segments from the categories of covered oil and gas source sources. The EPA stated in the modifications that the removal of the methane requirements for new, rebuilt, and modified sources in the production and processing segments has no effect on emissions and would not incur any additional expenses. The EPA defended the changes by arguing that the NSPS regulations for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the production and processing segments make the current methane restrictions unnecessary (e.g., fugitive emissions, pneumatic controllers, pneumatic pumps, and compressors).

The 2016 methane regulation, which requires operators of new oil and gas wells to locate and fix leaks and capture natural gas from the completion of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells, is now in effect. Additionally, they must restrict emissions from freshly installed or modified pneumatic pumps as well as from a variety of other pieces of machinery utilised in compressor stations for natural gas transmission, such as compressors and pneumatic controllers. In addition to decreasing other dangerous air pollutants such volatile organic compounds, EPA predicted when it published the rule in 2016 that it may prevent the release of 510,000 short tonnes of methane in 2025 (the equivalent of 11 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide) (VOCs, which are ozone-forming pollutants).

EPA continues to collaborate with business and states through its voluntary Natural Gas STAR programme to reduce methane from ongoing oil and gas operations, regardless of the regulatory strategy.

Additionally, Executive Order 13990 would order the Department of Interior to reconsider a 2018 rule that invalidated a 2016 regulation governing methane emissions from wells on BLM-managed and Indian lands. The 2016 rule raised disclosure requirements and imposed the first restrictions on the flaring of natural gas. Additionally, it forbade venting until certain conditions were met, called for pre-drill planning to minimise leaks, and enhanced the use of leak-detection technologies.

Other Industrial Sources

Since the Clean Air Act was passed into law in 1970, other industrial sectors, such as refineries and cement kilns, have been subject to regulations for specific pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and dioxides of nitrogen (NOx).

Through the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) programme, pollution from newly constructed, modified, and modified facilities must be regulated in accordance with Section 111 of the Act. Technology-based standards known as NSPS are applicable to particular types of stationary sources. To protect public health and the environment as technology develops and new pollution controls become more economically viable, the EPA continually strengthens the NSPS for pollutants. According to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, the Clean Air Act mandates the EPA create New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from all significant emitting subsectors.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page