May 12th brought the release of final standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
According to Politico, in addition to regulations covering new and modified sources of methane, “EPA also released a draft request for information from oil and gas companies, teeing up regulations on methane emissions from existing sources.” As highlighted in a previous PESA Washington Insighter, those regulations could be developed under a new administration.
The final rule included several significant changes from the draft proposal. The final rule sets a fixed schedule for monitoring leaks rather than a schedule that varies with performance, and compressor stations must conduct quarterly leak monitoring. A provision in the proposed rule exempting low-producing wells from the requirements was also removed.
Of importance to PESA members, the final rule did include provisions allowing for the use of alternative methane detection approaches, and set out a process for receiving approval from the EPA to use alternative technologies to monitor leaks.
Despite these improvements, the final rule is largely focused on adding new requirements instead of recognizing industry efforts to reduce methane emission levels. It is also important to note that methane emissions from oil and natural gas production-related activities only account for slightly under two percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Looking ahead to likely rules covering existing sources, PESA President Leslie Beyer remarked that “Innovations by PESA members have led to safer, faster, more efficient and less costly methods of production. Industry-wide successes in reducing emissions, even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically must be recognized.”