EPA proposal on methane emissions regulation backed by 21 states

A coalition of 21 states and one city’s attorneys general are backing an EPA supplemental proposal that would regulate methane emissions in the oil and gas exploration industry.

The attorneys general, led by California and New York, have commented in support of the federal organization’s proposal which is designed to create stronger regulations for methane emissions of new, modified, and reconstructed facilities in the industry. The proposal would also for the first time ever regulate emissions from existing infrastructure, which accounts for the majority of emissions.

The EPA, according to a release, has estimated the proposal would reduce methane emissions by 36 million tons, volatile organic compounds by 9.7 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 390,000 tons over the next 12 years.

Within the comments, the coalition of law enforcement officers backed the proposal, which, according to the release, is designed to update, strengthen, and expand the standards that were proposed in November 2021. In addition, the coalition said it has identified ways to further strengthen the initiative.

The proposal would work to require shorter repair periods for methane leaks if a well site is situated near an already overburdened community, according to the release. It would also add time restrictions for operators having idle wells and limit the total number of idle wells one owner can hold.

The EPA’s proposal, according to the release, would also prohibit routine flaring, with the only exception for safety and emergencies. It would also lower the threshold for defining super-emitter emission events and design a super-emitter response program that would maximize community participation.

California and New York are joined in the coalition by attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the city of Chicago.

According to the release, methane is 83 times more potent in the form of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane has been deemed as a super pollutant, and also traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

The single largest source of methane emissions are the production, processing, transmission and storage of oil and gas, according to the release. In addition, states have urged the EPA to regulate methane emissions over the last decade as part of combating climate change.

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