Four companies — Kinder Morgan Inc., National Grid, Southern Company Gas and Southwestern Energy Co. — have joined a voluntary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, the agency said last week.

The companies have signed onto EPA’s Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program as part of their commitment to the industry-led Our Nation’s Energy (ONE) Future Coalition to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas value chain. The Methane Challenge Program includes two options for companies to participate — the ONE Future Commitment and the Best Management Practices Commitment.

The EPA launched the Methane Challenge Program this past spring, with 41 founding partner companies from the industry signing on to participate.

“Our voluntary Methane Challenge Program is an important part of the Obama administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions and we are pleased to expand the program to include the ONE Future Commitment,” acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said. “These partner companies are leading a path to cleaner energy production in the natural gas sector by agreeing to reduce methane emissions and track their progress.”

Participating companies will submit emissions data annually to the EPA.

As part of efforts to address climate change, the Obama administration has targeted a 40-45% reduction in methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry by 2025 based on 2012 levels. It has rolled out a combination of voluntary and regulatory measures since announcing its intentions in 2014 (see Daily GPI, March 28, 2014).

Though the industry has been in his administration’s regulatory crosshairs, President Obama recently defended the role of natural gas in helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4).