The EPA's proposal to regulate methane emissions would put more pressure on oil and gas operators to fix any problems because of a new "super-emitter" provision.
The updated proposal was released by the EPA on Friday, the same day that President Joe Biden spoke at the U.N. climate summit. A program that would require oil and gas operators to respond to large- emission events was included in the new proposal.
A rise in communities partnering with nonprofits and others to investigate nearby oil and gas infrastructure would be a result of the result.
An attorney with the Clean Air Task Force said that there are a lot of possibilities for the super-emitter program to share the burden. That is important for the people that live near those leaks.
The oil and gas industry traps 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. The same equipment used by the EPA to document sources of methane emissions in oil fields is being used by a number of environmental groups.
When there is a leak, the groups will usually go to state regulators who will enforce local regulations. Sometimes state agencies take action and other times they do not.
Third parties that have been approved by the EPA would be able to make complaints to owners. According to an EPA fact sheet, companies would be required to analyze a leak within 5 days. Operators have 10 days to fix a leak caused by a malfunction. Operators would have to come up with a plan and schedule if it took longer than that.
In the past, the oil and gas industry has complained about the third-party findings of leaks. If companies can show that repeated notifications contained errors, the EPA would be able to revocation a third party's certification.
The American Petroleum Institute wouldn't comment on the EPA's proposal. Kathleen Sgamma is the president of the Western Energy Alliance.
In the past, conclusions have been drawn that a facility is a super emitter when in reality it is a maintenance event that is not indicative of continuous operations.
A recent case in Colorado shows how the EPA could help local communities. He was hit with a pretty powerful, knock-you-off-your-feet odor when he pulled up to an aging oilfield outside Fort Collins, Colo.
The battery tank was leaking a mix of methane and other pollutants that were flowing into the community. He used a $100,000 camera to take pictures of the invisible gases.
The tank battery was ordered to shut down by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The state has some of the strictest oil and gas regulations in the country but only shut down the battery after a concerted campaign by local homeowners. State inspectors discovered that the tanks were leaking hydrogen sulfide and methane.
The response is intended to be much quicker under the proposal from the EPA. Comments from groups affected by oil and gas pollution were included in the new draft rule.
The agency said that the program will create opportunities for communities to work with entities that monitor emissions.
The oil and gas industry has not come out against or in favor of the proposal. In a letter to the EPA, the company gave support to the data.
In principle, and to the extent third-party organizations are able to contribute data that are legally collected and scientifically sound, the company believes that this information can help to identify and solve problems in a transparent, efficient, and responsible way.
The new proposal's standards for super-emitters were the focus of Biden's visit to Egypt.
He said strong regulatory action to strengthen methane standards will make sure it's not released into the community.
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