Gas industry, enviros weigh in on EPA's methane reduction plan

EPA EDF ANGA E2 weigh in on methane emissions reduction proposal

Industry and environmental groups reacted swiftly to proposed greenhouse gas emissions regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the oil and gas industry.

EPA released four proposed rules focused on reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. The agency announced regulations to regulate methane from new sources, guidelines to reduce VOC emissions from existing sources in ozone nonattainment areas, proposed changes to EPA’s aggregation policy which could influence whether more oil and gas sources are subject to major air source permitting, and a proposed minor source air permitting program for oil and gas production in Indian Country, according to law firm Bracewell & Giuliani.

Marty Durbin, president and chief executive officer of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), said the new rules were “unnecessary.”

“Since 2005, natural gas producers have cut methane emissions 38 percent, while increasing production 35 percent,” Durbin said in a statement. “This impressive record has been accomplished through existing regulations and industry innovation. With further improvements certain to continue, we believe new and additional regulations are both unnecessary and counterproductive.”

Conversely, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) said the rules are needed to create more jobs.

“These standards will send another strong, clear market signal to the private sector that now is the time to invest in cleaner, more efficient energy technologies,” said E2 Chair and Co-Founder Nicole Lederer. “This means more innovation, more jobs – and lower methane emissions.”

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said the regulations area good first step, but there must be others.

“Setting the first national standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry is an important move, but it can’t be the last,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “This proposal addresses methane emissions from newly built and modified oil and gas operations, but not from existing facilities that account for all of today’s emissions and will still account for 90 percent of the problem by 2018.”

ANGA’s Durbin said the industry will continue reducing emissions.

“Not only do we have an incentive to capture methane – it is the product we sell – but our track record of efficiency improvement and innovation are what drives the environmental, economic and energy security benefits of natural gas,” Durbin said.

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