Climate change and climate change legislation and regulatory initiatives could result in increased operating costs and decreased demand for the oil and natural gas that we produce. Climate change, the costs that may be associated with its effects and the regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have the potential to affect our business in many ways, including increasing the costs to provide our products, reducing the demand for and consumption of our products (due to changes in both costs and weather patterns) and negatively impacting the economic health of the regions in which we operate, all of which can create financial risks. In addition, if restrictions on GHG emissions significantly increase our costs to produce oil and gas, or significantly decrease demand for our products, the value of our oil and gas reserves may decrease. To the extent financial markets view climate change and GHG emissions as a financial risk, this could negatively impact our cost of and access to capital. In addition, legislative and regulatory responses related to GHG emissions and climate change may result in increased operating costs, delays in obtaining air emissions and other necessary permits for new or modified facilities and reduced demand for the oil, gas and NGL that QEP produces. Federal and state courts and administrative agencies are considering the scope and scale of climate change regulation under various laws pertaining to the environment, energy use and energy resource development. Federal, state and local governments may also pass laws mandating the use of alternative energy sources, such as wind power and solar energy, or restricting or banning the use of gasoline or diesel powered vehicles, which may reduce demand for oil and natural gas. Further, state and local governments may pursue litigation against producers for damages allegedly resulting from climate change. QEP's ability to access and develop new oil and gas reserves may also be restricted by climate change regulations, including GHG reporting and regulation.
Congress has previously considered but not adopted proposed legislation aimed at reducing GHG emissions. The EPA has adopted final regulations under the Clean Air Act for the measurement and reporting of GHG emitted from certain large facilities and, as discussed above, has adopted additional regulations at 40 C.F.R Part 60, Subparts OOOO and OOOOa, to include additional requirements to reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions from oil and natural gas facilities. The status of Subpart OOOOa is uncertain given the ongoing litigation, administrative reconsideration, proposed revisions to those rules announced in September 2018, and the prospects for legal challenges to such revisions. Additionally, in June 2014, the United States Supreme Court upheld a portion of EPA's GHG stationary source permitting program in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, but also invalidated a portion of it. The Court's holding does not prevent states from considering and adopting state-only major source permitting requirements based solely on GHG emission levels. Federal and state regulatory agencies can impose administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties for non-compliance with air permits or other requirements of the Clean Air Act and associated state laws and regulations to which QEP's operations are subject.
In December 2015, over 190 countries, including the U.S., reached an agreement in Paris (COP 21) to reduce global emissions of GHG (the Paris Agreement). The Paris Agreement provides for the cutting of carbon emissions every five years, beginning in 2023, and sets a goal of keeping global warming to a maximum limit of two degrees Celsius and a target limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius greater than pre-industrial levels. In June 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. would initiate the formal process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Withdrawal will take a few years to implement due to the Paris Agreement's legal structure and language. The current state of development of ongoing international climate initiatives and any related domestic actions make it difficult to assess the timing or effect on our operations or to predict with certainty the future costs that we may incur in order to comply with future international treaties or domestic regulations. Following the initiation of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, state and local regulation efforts are expected to increase. In several of the states in which QEP operates the regulatory authorities are considering various GHG registration and reduction programs, including methane leak detection monitoring and repair requirements specific to oil and gas facilities. In addition, the failure of the federal government to address climate change concerns, including, for example, a protracted delay by President Trump's administration in determining its own carbon-cost estimate (i.e., the estimate of how much carbon pollution costs society via climate damages) after rejecting the $40 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent estimate of the Obama administration, could afford ENGOs additional opportunities to pursue further legal challenges to oil and gas drilling and pipeline projects.
Moreover, some experts believe climate change poses potential physical risks, including an increase in sea level and changes in weather conditions, such as an increase in precipitation and extreme weather events. In addition, warmer winters as a result of global warming could also decrease demand for natural gas. To the extent that such unfavorable weather conditions are exacerbated by climate change or otherwise, our operations may be adversely affected to a greater degree than we have previously experienced, including increased delays and costs. However, the uncertain nature of changes in extreme weather events (such as increased frequency, duration, and severity) and the long period of time over which any changes would take place make any estimations of future financial risk to our operations caused by these potential physical risks of climate change unreliable.