EPA Proposes Relaxed Methane Emissions Regulations

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Fugitive methane emissions from pipeline compression stations are among those in the proposed EPA rollback.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to amend the new source performance standards (NSPS) concerning, among other things, fugitive methane emissions requirements. The proposal would allow oil and gas companies to conduct less frequent inspections for methane leaks at their facilities and give them more time to make repairs if they do find a leak.

Under the proposal methane gas emissions will increase by 380,000 short tons from 2019 to 2025, compared to the agency’s 2018 baseline estimate. The EPA estimated its proposal could lead to at least $54-million domestic societal costs in that timeframe, including negative health and welfare effects caused by increased methane emissions. However, the agency also said it would save up to $484 million in regulatory costs.

Reaction among energy industry sources has been positive. The American Petroleum Institute said that the proposed changes could “ensure that the rule is based on best engineering practices and is cost-effective.” It said rolling back regulatory requirements will have no impact on the industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, which it said has reached a 25-year low.

“Industry will continue to develop and employ the most efficient and effective technologies to help these trends continue, while working with academia and state and federal governments to achieve comprehensive, science-based best practices and regulations,” Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said in a statement.

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