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Government Actions to Reduce Methane Pollution Broadly Popular with U.S. Voters

Gas plant flaring at a gas terminal

June 20, 2024

Washington, D.C. – A significant majority of registered voters support government action to reduce methane emissions, according to a national poll released today by Climate Nexus. Voters overwhelmingly say that stronger methane regulations of the oil and gas industry are needed, and believe that these companies will not make such changes on their own even though they could easily afford to further limit their emissions.

Key poll findings include: 

  1. Nearly 6 in 10 voters (59%) say they are more likely to support political candidates who favor policies to reduce methane emissions. Moreover, only 10% of voters say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support policies to reduce methane. 
  2. Nearly 3 in 4 voters (73%) support policies requiring oil and gas companies to reduce their methane emissions and penalizing those that do not meet government standards. Voters are evenly supportive of using penalties, tax incentives or other funding mechanisms to encourage oil and gas companies to achieve stronger emissions standards. 
  3. More than four in five voters want stronger methane regulations to apply to all oil and gas wells. 82% support requiring oil and gas companies to address leaks at active wells. And despite industry arguments that it costs too much to reduce emissions from low-producing oil wells, a consistent 82% support requiring oil and gas companies to limit emissions from all wells, including marginal oil-producing wells.
  4. The oil and gas industry’s practice of routine flaring to burn off excess gas is deeply unpopular. More than two in three voters (70%) say they support government policies to eliminate routine flaring.
  5. There is robust support for the supplemental use of new technologies to detect and report large methane releases, leading to stronger government enforcement actions against oil and gas polluters. Nearly four in five voters (78%) support using new monitoring technologies like satellites from outside organizations to help enforce government methane rules.

A sharp reduction in methane emissions is both key to limiting near-term global warming and a common-sense protection for millions of Americans living closest to harmful air pollution from the oil and gas operations. Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other state and federal agencies have recently advanced several new provisions to limit methane pollution from the oil and gas industry, such as EPA’s rules for new and existing oil and gas operations, the Methane Emission Reduction Program waste fee, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s proposed pipeline leak detection and repair rules. 

“The results of this poll underscore what we already know — that a majority of voters agree methane gas is hot for the planet and toxic for your health,” said James Hadgis, Executive Director of the Gas Leaks Project. “The industry has spent billions to promote methane as safe, undermining decades worth of research proving otherwise. Increased methane literacy and consumer education have caused more Americans to realize that so-called ‘natural’ gas is intensifying the climate crisis and endangering families. Methane reduction has never been more popular, and it’s time we act now.”

All of these new and proposed rules have been subject to ongoing industry opposition and/or legislative proposals seeking to overturn them. With the fate of many of these rules likely in the hands of the next Congress and presidential administration, this new data indicates a considerable majority of U.S. voters support stronger government actions to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

The survey of 2,033 registered voters (18+) in the United States was conducted on June 10, 2024, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.3%.