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New Methane Emission Rules Unveiled

The Obama administration today officially unveiled a new initiative to cut methane emissions in the energy industry, including plans for the EPA to regulate future oil and gas wells.  The plans are an offshoot of last year’s methane emission strategy.  The White House and EPA also announced a goal of cutting methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, though the plans released today are not likely to be sufficient to reach that goal.

Central to the plans announced Wednesday will be EPA regulation of emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds from new and modified oil and gas wells, gathering systems and processing plants.  Those rules will not cover the entire oil and gas system — pipelines are omitted — and the agency does not have plans to impose regulations on the oil and gas infrastructure that is already built. The EPA will take several other steps, including finalizing greenhouse gas reporting requirements that are already in the works and exploring options to increase monitoring that would identify methane leaks across the oil and gas system.

Beyond the EPA:

  • Bureau of Land Management: a long-delayed proposal will be issued this spring to deal with well emissions on public lands
  • Department of Transportation: consider cutting methane leaks when issuing new pipeline safety standards
  • DOE: plans to issue energy efficiency standards for natural gas air compressors

More Information:

Fact Sheet: Administration Takes Steps Forward on Climate Action Plan by Announcing Actions to Cut Methane Emissions

New York Times: Obama is Planning New Rules on Oil and Gas Industry’s Methane Emissions

Washington Times: Obama targets oil and gas industry, demands massive reduction in methane emissions

Wall Street Journal: EPA Set to Regulate Oil and Gas Methane Emissions

Reuters: White House to curb methane emissions from oil, gas production

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