Investor Ranks Top $1.5 Trillion in Support of National Methane Standards

investorsCalifornia public school teachers. Religious charities. New York police officers and firefighters.

What do all of these groups have in common? Investors representing them — who manage $1.5 trillion in retirees, current employees’, and others assets – are standing together and calling for strong rules limiting harmful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. This level of outpouring – from diversified investors with holdings in the oil and gas industry – represents five times the support investors expressed for methane rules last year. A trend is emerging.

The investors, including the largest retirement funds in California and New York, issued a powerful statement in support of the president’s methane proposal aimed at cutting emissions nearly in half in a decade. A centerpiece is regulation of methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, which has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it’s released and is responsible for 25 percent of the warming we are feeling today.

From their vantage point as long-term stakeholders, the “serious threat” methane poses to climate stability compels them, as fiduciaries, to support action to cut emissions and avoid near term threats to “infrastructure and economic harm that will weaken not only the companies we .invest in, but the nation as a whole.” Market pressure like that is difficult to ignore.

Like many investors, they’re taking the long view – reconciling their holdings in oil and gas companies with the threat that methane emissions pose to our climate, and pushing for cost effective national limits on methane. As they say: “What is truly needed is a strong federal standard on methane that will level the playing field for all companies.”

The investors behind this letter understand the double benefit of establishing national limits on methane. In addition to slowing the rate of warming and limiting the economic harm from climate change in this generation, it is an opportunity for industry to improve resource efficiency and deliver a badly needed win to start building public trust.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) should heed the call and move forward with a fact-based, comprehensive regulatory approach. Making the best practices of a few the standard practices of the many will unlock environmental returns while stamping out reputational risks for an industry at the crossroads. That’s a rare opportunity: it’s time to invest.

This blog first appeared on our EDF+Business blog.

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