(Washington, DC – November 11) The US Environmental Protection Agency today released the latest regulatory proposals to significantly reduce methane pollution in oil and gas.
“EPA’s supplemental proposal would provide many important pollution protection measures, such as ensuring regular inspections of high-pollution, low-producing wells, unlocking advanced monitoring technology, and addressing contamination from abandoned wells. ,” said Peter Zarzal, Vice President, Clean Air Strategy. “This proposal relies on the latest proven technologies and best practices, including zero-emission solutions, and, when reinforced and completed, will provide millions of people across the country with enormous climate and public health benefits. can bring great benefits.”
Additionally, while EPA’s proposals take steps to reduce routine flaring, further enhancements are needed to eliminate this wasteful and polluting practice. EPA is also seeking comment on questions regarding the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, which would help further accelerate the reduction of methane pollution.
Jon Goldstein, Senior Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund, said: “Reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is one of the most direct and cost-effective ways to slow the rate of global warming while improving air quality and protecting public health. As the world converges on Egypt, the EPA’s proposal bolsters America’s firm commitment to combating climate change, and stopping these wasteful emissions will help decarbonize the world’s energy system. It will also help meet energy needs during geopolitical crises, while continuing to work on methane contamination and waste of energy resources. We look forward to making the final rule as strong as possible in the area of reducing contamination from regular flaring, a common source.”
The US oil and gas industry emits 16 million tons of methane annually. This has the same short-term climate impact as 350 coal-fired power plants. Reducing natural gas wastage through leaks and flares could provide more than half of the 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year pledged to European allies by the Biden administration, according to an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund.
benefit the community
The EPA’s proposed regulation today builds on federal standards reinstated by a bipartisan majority in Congress last year, with broad support from industry and the public, in addition to the EPA’s original proposal.
Communities across the county stand to benefit from strong regulations to reduce methane emissions and smog-forming VOCs that contribute to ground-level ozone problems and other air poisons released with methane. Peer-reviewed studies also show that people of color are disproportionately among those who live near oil and gas fields.
As military and political leaders work to decarbonize the economy in the longer term, curbing methane emissions is a key short-term solution to advancing both climate and energy security goals. I agree to provide a solution.
The EPA’s strong standards work in tandem with the Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP), adopted by Congress earlier this year to curb methane pollution. MERP assesses oil and gas utility fees responsible for excessive methane pollution and provides funding to regulators, communities and businesses to mitigate health and climate-harming pollution from industry To do.
High pollution, low production wells
Today’s proposal addresses emissions from highly polluted, low-yielding wells. More than three-quarters of them are owned by large corporations, each operating more than 100 wells with an average gross revenue of about $335 million in 2019.
According to a recent peer-reviewed study, these wells (sometimes called “marginal”) produce only 6% of the nation’s oil and gas, yet produce 40% more methane than any other well site in the country. It was found to cause more than 50% of the pollution.
The proposal calls for regular monitoring at all sites with failure-prone equipment. This is important to reduce equipment leaks, which are responsible for 63% of production site methane emissions.
The proposed standard also maintains a strong requirement to move to zero-emission pneumatics, the industry’s second largest source of methane emissions.
Importance of Flare Contamination Reduction
EPA’s proposal is a step forward to reduce regular flaring of associated gas, and further action must be included as rules are finalized to reduce this wasteful and polluting practice. not.Recent research in chemistry Malfunctions and inefficiencies in flares have found that flaring releases five times more methane than previously thought. According to Rystad Energy’s analysis, solutions to combat periodic flaring are by far the most cost-effective and commercially available.
Energy-producing states such as Colorado and New Mexico are moving to curb emissions from smaller, leaky wells and end the practice of routine flaring pollution, and these common sense Recent congressional actions have further underscored broad support for EPA’s oil and gas standards, including funding to further reduce the cost of reducing methane pollution. is.
Following today’s proposal, a public comment period will begin, including hearings and testimony. The rules are expected to be finalized next year.