New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules would cut methane emissions sharply but oil and gas industry groups contend they would put new requirements on oil and gas companies.
EPA says that the proposal, released on Aug. 18, would trim methane emissions from oil and gas facilities by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. Energy organizations contend that the regulations would be costly and duplicate pollution-reduction efforts that their firms already have under way.
Environmental advocates counter that the proposed regulations would help the U.S. move closer toward achieving international commitments in combating climate change
America’s Natural Gas Alliance President and CEO Marty Durbin says that, since 2005, natural gas companies have cut methane emissions by 38% while increasing production 35%, through industry innovations and under existing regulations.
Durbin said in a statement, “With further improvements certain to continue, we believe new and additional regulations are both unnecessary and counterproductive. This rule is simply not the best way to achieve our shared goal of methane emissions reductions.”
Durbin added that a more collaborative approach would bring “greater reductions more quickly than new and unnecessary regulation.”
But Madeleine Foote, League of Conservation Voters legislative representative, said in a statement, “Solutions to methane pollution are available now, cost-effective, and will protect public health.”
The regulations are part of the Obama administration’s overall strategy to address climate change. Methane is the key constituent of natural gas and has a global-warming potential 25 times greater than carbon dioxide's, EPA says.
The proposed standards would require firms that work in the oil and gas sector to fix and repair leaks; capture natural gas using “green completions” from hydraulically fractured oil wells; limit emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps; and limit emissions from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmissions compressor stations, including compressors and pneumatic controllers.
The proposal builds on EPA's New Source Performance Standards for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions for the oil and natural gas sector that became final in 2012. EPA’s proposed updates would require the industry also to reduce methane.
EPA says that sources that already are subject to the 2012 new-source requirements would not have to install additional controls under the new methane proposal, because the controls to reduce VOCs reduce methane as well.
EPA will accept public comments for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.