On August 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first-ever proposal aimed at regulating methane emissions, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOC), from the oil and gas industry. EPA is taking this action on the basis of the endangerment finding that demonstrated that greenhouse gases (including methane) are harmful to public health. The oil and gas industry is one of the largest producers of methane in the country.
In its proposal, the EPA would amend the New Source Performance Standards to include requirements surrounding methane and VOC emissions as they relate to a number of emission sources and equipment. The proposal will help in the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025; however, it will not be the only effort toward this goal. The proposal released on Tuesday affects only new and modified sources, but the EPA could later propose similar regulations to existing facilities. The proposal aims to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
These proposed federal regulations follow similar state-only regulations adopted in Colorado in 2014. Producers in the oil and gas industry, as well as supporting industries and equipment manufacturers, should take note of the proposed rule and consider submitting comments.
A public comment period will be open for 60 days from the publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.