EPA Proposes Methane Emissions Controls for Oil and Gas Sources

On November 15, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency published a proposed rule to limit methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas infrastructure under the Clean Air Act. EPA’s proposed rule includes three distinct groups of actions. First, EPA is proposing to revise the new source performance standards for methane and volatile organic compound emissions for the Crude Oil and Natural Gas source category. Second, EPA is proposing nationwide emissions guidelines for states to follow in developing, submitting, and implementing state plans to establish performance standards for limiting methane emissions from existing sources in the Crude Oil and Natural Gas source category. Finally, EPA is proposing to reverse a rule governing methane emissions that was finalized during the Trump administration, titled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review,” which had substantially weakened the regulation of methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. Congress had formally disapproved of the Trump administration rule under the Congressional Review Act, and President Biden had directed EPA to consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the rule in his Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.

Among other actions, EPA’s proposed rule would establish a monitoring program to require companies to address fugitive emissions at new and existing well sites and compressor stations; would require all new and existing pneumatic controllers at production, processing, and transmission and storage facilities to produce zero methane and volatile organic compound emissions (with limited exceptions for certain Alaska facilities); would eliminate the venting of associated gas from oil wells; would add storage tank batteries to the definition of facilities that must reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions; and would broaden the types of pneumatic pumps covered by the rule.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule within until January 14, 2022.