EPA Proposal to Reduce Methane and Other Harmful Pollution from Oil and Natural Gas Operations
In November 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to reduce emissions of methane and other harmful air pollution from new and existing oil and gas operations. It issued a supplement in November 2022.
The proposed rule would require most oil and gas production facilities to stop venting and flaring methane, and facilities would be required to capture the methane and route it to a pipeline or for use onsite. If neither can be done, flaring will be permitted but with a 95% emissions reduction and additional monitoring and reporting requirements. Additionally, the rule would impose stricter standards on oil and gas production equipment and compressor stations, specifically methane leak detection components and frequency of monitoring. Optical gas imaging is the proposed technology, but the EPA is seeking comment on other possible leak detection technology (e.g., sensor networks, unmanned aircraft, mobile detection equipment, and satellite imagery). Lastly, the rule includes emissions guidelines for existing sources similar to the limitations in the New Source Performance Standards.
Building on comments, consultations, and hearings on the 2021 Proposal, the 2022 Supplemental Proposal strengthens the requirements further, promotes innovation, simplifies implementation, and fosters inclusivity. It clarifies the system of developing methane emissions reductions plans for Tribal Nations, and gives stakeholders a consultation mechanism during the planning stage. Lastly, it introduces the "Super-Emitter Response Program" that requires operators to respond to credible third-party reports of high-volume methane leaks.
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