Because of their relatively low particulate make, lean burn natural gas vehicles (NGV's) are a viable approach to meeting the ULEV particulate standards in urban environments where NGV's are substituted for diesel powered buses and other fleet vehicles. Our experience with oxidation catalyst technology for natural gas vehicle emissions abatement has been consistent: that palladium based catalysts maintain excellent NMHC activity and particulate reduction, but methane activity, while initially very high, decreases within the first 50 hours of operation. This paper will show that sulfur oxides at sub-ppm concentrations diminish catalyst methane activity, and that inorganic ash components from the lubricating oil (P, Zn, Ca) do not significantly contribute to the initial catalyst deactivation. Using laboratory simulations, we explore systems approaches to increasing catalyst life. Finally, we will discuss the implications of our work vis-à-vis the establishment of methane standards for lean burn natural gas vehicles.