EPA May Expand Regulations for Methane Emissions for Oil and Gas

By |2018-11-02T08:41:29+00:00September 8th, 2014|Tags: , , , |

Methane, a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, is 84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within the first 20 years of being released. The White House says 28 percent of US methane emissions are generated from natural gas wells and pipelines. A Stanford University study said methane released from the US natural gas supply chain were two times greater than estimated.

Methane, a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, is 84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within the first 20 years of being released. The White House says 28 percent of US methane emissions are generated from natural gas wells and pipelines. A Stanford University study said methane released from the US natural gas supply chain were two times greater than estimated.

Because of these findings, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking into expanding regulations on methane emissions on private entities through an expansion of the Clean Air Act. If more regulations are deemed necessary, then implementation and enforcement will begin before 2016.

Current measures are in place to control methane emissions from large-scale cattle/dairy farms and landfills, but the EPA is working on developing stricter regulations on methane emissions from coal mines on land leased from the federal government. The Bureau of Land Management is expected to propose updated standards this year to reduce venting and flaring from oil and gas production on public lands. However, many environmental groups say this falls short of what is really necessary and are pushing for more stringent regulation.

The American Petroleum Institute’s (API) response is new regulations would be superfluous and espouses that the oil and gas industry is sufficiently self-regulating and is continuing to roll out new technology to improve methane emissions. By January 2015, oil and gas producers will be required by the EPA to use new technologies to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as other sources of air pollution. See the regulatory actions here. The EPA has also implemented the Natural Gas STAR program, which works collaboratively with oil and gas companies to provide a framework to encourage partner companies to implement methane emissions reducing technologies and practices and document their voluntary emission reduction activities.

To learn more about this topic, check out this article.

By staying on the forefront of environmental policy, RS&H provides its clients with the best guidance in the ever changing regulatory world. We can help attain methane requirements through unique engineering solutions, and provide permitting, reporting, and regulatory coordinating services to facilitate production.

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About the author

Kate Lindekugel
Kate Lindekugel
As an environmental scientist, Kate has more than 13 years of experience including ecological surveys and field studies, functional assessments, preparing environmental reports and permits, data management, stream channel and wetland restoration, peer reviewed research, and coordinating with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies, as well as public and private stakeholders.

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