EPA Strengthens Methane Reporting Requirements for Oil and Gas Industry

November 14, 2014


Lauren Whittenberg, 512-691-3437, lwhittenberg@edf.org
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – Nov. 14, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today signed two actions that will increase the accountability and rigor of measures requiring oil and gas companies to report methane emissions annually to its Greenhouse Gas Reporting program.

“These new EPA reporting requirements enhance the transparency and rigor of publicly available methane emissions data. But these important reporting requirements are not a substitute for action to reduce emissions. It is critical that EPA move ahead with commonsense clean air measures to reduce methane emissions from the nation’s largest industrial source and to protect the health of our communities,” said Peter Zalzal, senior attorney at Environmental Defense Fund.

In the first action, EPA finalized a rule eliminating certain monitoring methods for oil and gas sources (known as “Best Available Monitoring Methods” or BAMM), which had allowed the use of unreliable reporting methods to calculate emissions. Under the new requirement, all sources must deploy standardized monitoring methods that will enhance the rigor and transparency of methane emissions data from the oil and gas sector.

EPA’s second action proposed methane reporting requirements for additional, important emissions sources in the oil and gas sector — including gathering and boosting equipment, completions at oil wells, and certain transmission sources. The proposal also invites comment on cutting-edge, advanced monitoring methods, which can help promote real-time understanding of methane leaks.   

Methane is more than 80 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide after it is released over the short-term.Targeting achievable reductions would provide a significant climate benefit over the next 20 years, equivalent to eliminating the carbon dioxide pollution from about 90 coal-fired power plants. Methane pollution controls would also bring important public health benefits for communities located near oil and gas development, by simultaneously cutting smog-forming and cancer-causing pollutants from the oil and gas sector.

Extensive scientific analysis shows that the U.S. needs to adopt commonsense emission standards for the oil and gas industry to eliminate waste and protect human health and the environment. Cost-effective solutions are at hand that will eliminate methane leaks, and create jobs at the same time. 

In March of 2014, a report by ICF International found that proven, low-cost technologies could cut methane emissions by 40 percent while also reducing smog-forming and carcinogenic air pollutants.

Another report, released in October, demonstrated that American companies and workers are ready, willing, and able to provide the technology and services oil and gas companies will need to deploy these solutions.   

A broad set of stakeholders—from labor unions to financial institutions—have already urged strong actions to mitigate methane pollution.

Earlier this year, the White House announced the President’s Methane Strategy, which indicates that EPA will decide how to best pursue additional methane reductions from the oil and gas sector by fall of 2014.

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