WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released an update to its November 2021 proposed rule on methane regulations, taking important steps to improve their standards for the oil and gas industry. If finalized, the regulations would significantly reduce methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas operations, the country’s largest industrial emitter of methane.
“Today’s draft supplemental rule is a welcome sign that reducing methane emissions is a top priority for EPA,” said Darin Schroeder of Clean Air Task Force. “Due to its intensity and short-lived nature, immediate methane abatement is essential to addressing climate change. Fortunately, the practices and technologies at our disposal, including more frequent leak detection and repair inspections at leak-prone sites and utilizing advanced technologies to inspect, replacing outdated pneumatic equipment, and capturing gas instead of unnecessarily flaring, will have immense benefits for the environment and public health.”
EPA’s update includes revisions to the leak detection and repair program, bolstering efforts to prevent unnecessary emissions from oil and gas sites. The new proposal establishes that all wells are required to be monitored, and those most susceptible to large leaks must be monitored more frequently.
Another update is the zero-emitting pneumatic controller requirement, which now extends to pneumatic pumps. This should also reduce flaring of associated gas, but the efficacy will depend on the rigor of the certification demonstration.
“The most important piece in the revision are the leak detection and repair requirements. As well-intentioned as last year’s proposal was, it essentially exempted too many wells. Overall, these updated standards should lead to increased methane emissions reductions from the U.S. oil and gas sector,” Schroeder added. “But the job is not done, and we have no time to waste. It is critical the EPA continue working to improve their proposal and finalize strong and comprehensive methane regulations to curb climate change and do so expeditiously. We commend the agency for taking another step forward in proposing much needed improvements to require routine monitoring at all well sites regardless of production levels and look forward to commenting on this proposal and engaging further with EPA officials and other stakeholders to get the strongest possible rule finalized.”
The EPA rule comes on the heels of two recent reports that highlight the economic and public health benefits of strong methane regulations. In Good Rules, Good Jobs: Employment Opportunities from Emissions Standards for Oil and Gas, CATF found the 2021 EPA proposal would create 92,000 U.S.-based jobs across the supply chain – and even more the stronger the regulations are. And CATF’s Fossil Fumes analysis found that 14 million Americans are at an increased cancer risk due to toxic air pollutants emitted alongside methane.
Reducing methane emissions is key to slowing down global warming and improving air quality, all which can be done while creating tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. Learn more about CATF’s work to reduce methane emissions here: https://www.catf.us/methane/.
About Clean Air Task Force
Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit catf.us and follow @cleanaircatf.