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DIVING DEEPER

Compendium of Leading Regulations and Emission Standards for Air and Climate Pollutants from Oil and Gas Operations

Work Area: Methane Pollution Prevention

Companies and countries representing over 40% of global oil and gas production have agreed to limit emissions associated with natural gas leaks, venting, and flaring in some capacity. National and sub-national jurisdictions across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have issued regulations, or committed to do so in order to meet methane reduction goals. Several additional U.S. states are in the process of developing or strengthening regulations, and several other countries have started to develop policies that can reduce methane emissions, including the European Union and Argentina. The strength of regulations varies from one jurisdiction to the next. Some regulate methane emissions directly, while others address VOCs, which reduce methane as a co-benefit, since the two pollutants are both present in natural gas. In the U.S. and Canada, some rules only apply to new facilities or equipment, while other rules are applied to existing equipment.  

Several studies have identified methane mitigation measures from the oil and gas sector as some of the easiest available to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For most companies, even small investments in efficiency and mitigation projects compete for capital with exploration and production projects; due to higher returns the latter tend to get funded at the expense of the former. This is the main reason why voluntary programs have only achieved modest results and regulation can play a big part in reducing emissions at minimal cost to companies.  

The compendium below provides a brief overview of the most important oil and gas air and climate pollutant regulations promulgated by national and state/provincial governments. A list of recommended “best in class” regulations for each major specific emissions sources/equipment types is included, chosen from among the regulations in place.