EPA chief floats change to methane oversight. Could push oil & gas emissions below reporting levels.

May 29, 2019

EPA is considering a change to how oil and gas industry methane emissions are counted that could push them below required reporting levels under the Clean Air Act according to a May 24, 2019 E & E News Energywire report.

EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told an industry gathering the agency will assess whether the oil and gas sector should continue to be regulated as a single pollution source. He noted there are “significant differences” between the production and processing corner of the industry and the transmission and storage of oil and gas.

For the purpose of regulating potent greenhouse gas emissions, Wheeler said the agency might split the business into separate categories. If it passed legal muster, the idea could divide industry methane emissions into smaller units that might not qualify for regulation.

“With the sources split, it’s not clear whether the level of greenhouse gas emissions will be high enough to trigger the significant attribution criteria, which are required to set emission standards under the Clean Air Act,” Wheeler said at the U.S. Energy Association event.

Last fall, EPA rolled out a process to reconsider methane emission regulations issued near the end of the Obama administration. At the time, officials said those measures were “targeted improvements” and that they were leaving broader policy issues to be addressed at “a later date.”

Wheeler’s remarks yesterday touched on bigger questions around the agency’s approach.
“We expect to issue a proposal in the next few months that will assess whether it makes sense to separately regulate methane when controls already achieve the original Quad O standard,” Wheeler said, referencing methane requirements added to the New Source Performance Standards by the Obama EPA.

What this means to you
EPA is considering a change to how oil and gas industry methane emissions are counted that could push them below required reporting levels under the Clean Air Act.

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