EPA Finalizes Updates to Methane Reporting Requirements that Serve as Basis for Waste Emissions Charge

The updates are a key part of the IRA’s Methane Emission Reduction Program and will improve the accuracy of our emissions inventory

May 6, 2024
Jack Alber, (415)-530-7042, jalber@edf.org

(WASHINGTON) — The Environmental Protection Agency today announced updates to methane reporting requirements from oil and gas facilities under the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. 

With the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress directed EPA to update the reporting program to include empirically collected data and to improve the accuracy of total reported emissions so as to address the well-documented problem of under-reporting and assess the waste charge established by the IRA’s Methane Emission Reduction Program based on actual amounts of pollution created by the industry. 

Today’s announcement is an important step toward implementing the waste emissions charge and driving near-term methane reductions. New measurement data from satellites and advanced technologies, along with $1 billion in funding for data collection, monitoring and enforcement, provides EPA an opportunity to continually improve methane reporting and estimation. As part of today's announcement, EPA indicated it plans to solicit information this summer on how to incorporate new data like this into potential revisions of the program going forward.  

“By directing EPA to update and strengthen methane emissions reporting, Congress recognized the vital importance of measurement-based, accurate and scientifically robust data to establish the true volume of pollution created by the oil and gas industry. Updated methane reporting, along with continued integration of new measurement data, will allow us to better understand emission sources and mitigation opportunities and track changes in emissions over time”. 

“These updates will serve as the basis for implementing the waste emissions charge. EPA should expeditiously move forward with finalizing additional actions necessary to assess the charge and timely deploy funding to support methane measurement and mitigation.” 

Additional Background: 

The US Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which takes bold action to address the climate crisis. Multiple independent analyses show the law could reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, providing important support for President Biden’s goal of cutting emissions in half by 2030. 

The IRA also created the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, which cuts methane from oil and gas operations through a charge on wasteful emissions and funding to help reduce pollution. MERP complements recently adopted EPA standards requiring operators to cut methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. 

Importantly, MERP directs EPA to update Subpart W of the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program to include empirically collected data and to ensure the accuracy of total reported emissions from oil and gas facilities. 

EPA’s current method of quantifying methane emissions is based on emissions factors that don’t fully capture emissions based on today’s oil and gas industry production, practices and equipment. Numerous studies observe methane emissions are significantly higher than current EPA estimates. A comprehensive study released in 2018 found emissions to be 60% higher than EPA figures. 

Building from the important updates EPA finalized today, the agency is also soliciting additional information this summer on how to incorporate data from satellites and advanced measurement technologies into Subpart W and plans to continue to do so going forward. It is of vital importance that EPA continue to update its reporting program in a scientifically grounded way to address the well-known problem of underreported emissions and to ensure that the MERP waste charge is assessed on the true volume of pollution created by the oil and gas industry. 

MERP also provides significant funding to support measurement and monitoring of methane emissions. EPA and DOE have recently announced up to $1 billion in funds, some of which will support monitoring collaborations. These efforts will generate important data that must be policy relevant and can help inform additional updates to emissions reporting and inventories to further improve accuracy.  

In addition, utilizing satellites such as MethaneSAT and others for third-party measurement data will further ensure the accuracy of EPA data and continue to improve the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program with future updates.

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