Good things are happening! The EPA announces a long-awaited crackdown on methane emissions, labor organizers take on non-union automakers around the country, Michigan will automatically register to vote anyone who is leaving prison, and a new study finds massive lithium deposits in California’s Salton Sea.

EPA Slashes Methane Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized new regulations on methane that the agency predicts will reduce emissions from U.S. oil and gas producers by 80 percent over the next two decades — a long-awaited crackdown on the pollutant, which is a significant contributor to climate change.

U.S. officials announced the new regulations at the United Nations COP28 climate conference that began in Dubai last weekend. Despite President Joe Biden’s conspicuous absence at the conference, and growing tensions between the U.S. and its allies, the EPA’s methane regulations were a sliver of good news, and formed part of a global focus at the conference on slashing methane emissions.

Methane emissions, which leak into the atmosphere from oil and gas plants, animal agriculture, and gas flaring, are responsible for some 30 percent of current warming. Because methane does not stay in the atmosphere nearly as long as carbon dioxide (a decade or so, instead of centuries), reductions to methane are considered an important measure to ease warming in the short term. Yet methane emissions — like carbon emissions — have been climbing in recent years.