Energy & Environment

EPA to issue methane rollback: report

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will sign and issue new rules this week that will get rid of certain methane gas emission requirements for oil and gas producers, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. 

Unidentified administration officials told the newspaper that the new rules will include getting rid of requirements for producers to have systems and processes to find methane leaks. They will also end EPA oversight of smog and emissions from pipelines and storage sites and lessen monitoring and reporting requirements for certain pollutants, the Journal reported. 

The new rules have most of the major elements of proposals from 2018 and 2019, according to the newspaper. 

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill that the rule is “still under interagency review” when asked for comment on the report.

In 2019, the agency proposed eliminating requirements for oil and gas companies to install technology for monitoring methane emissions from pipelines, wells and facilities.

In 2018, it proposed reducing the frequency of monitoring methane emissions of oil and gas wells to every two years and compressor stations that help transport natural gas to just once a year. 

However, the Journal reported Monday that the administration would forgo the measures that would have reduced the inspection frequency due to difficulty in justifying them legally. 

The 2018 proposed rule also aimed to reduce qualifications for engineers that need to certify that emissions-capturing equipment is used and allow for more “alternative” technologies to limit pollution, reduce emissions reporting requirements and exempt many natural gas processing plants from monitoring.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that can be 25 times more impactful than carbon dioxide in equal quantities. In 2018, it accounted for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. 

Tags Environment Protection Agency EPA Greenhouse gas emissions methane emissions

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