(WASHINGTON) Today, the Environmental Protection Agency released its proposed rule to completely eliminate regulations for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry across the entire supply chain and to remove all federal rules – for both methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – for facilities in the transportation and storage segment of the supply chain.
As EPA makes clear, this proposal is an attempt to dodge the agency’s legal duty to regulate existing sources in the oil and gas sector. Today’s proposal comes on the heels of an EPA proposal last fall to significantly weaken pollution control provisions in 2016 standards, such as requirements for performing regular leak inspection.
“This proposal is irresponsible, dangerous and out of step with calls from oil and gas industry leaders to preserve and strengthen federal methane rules. Without a strong federal framework in place, the case for natural gas evaporates.”
· Matt Watson, Vice President, Energy, Environmental Defense Fund
Based on 2017 data, failing to regulate existing sources, removing standards for transmission and storage facilities and weakening current standards as EPA has proposed would result in 5 million metric tons of methane emissions annually that would be otherwise be reduced – more than a third of total methane from oil and gas operations, and enough gas to heat 4 million homes. Combined, these two proposals could likewise lead to nearly 1.2 million tons of additional smog-forming VOCs and more than 43 thousand tons of hazardous air pollutants like benzene annually.
Methane from human activities is responsible for 25% of the warming we are currently experiencing. At the same time, the latest evidence shows oil and gas methane emissions are 60% higher than estimated by EPA. EPA’s action today comes as many leading states and countries have moved to adopt methane standards for the oil and gas sector. As with the Trump administration efforts to roll back clean car standards, which has been met by strong opposition from automotive industry leaders, several leading oil and gas companies have called on EPA to maintain and even strengthen federal methane standards.
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