EPA mulls exempting some oil, gas operations from emissions rules

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed removing oil and gas transmission and storage operations from regulations under federal New Source Performance Standards.

The US Environmental Protection Agency proposed removing oil and gas transmission and storage operations from regulations under federal New Source Performance Standards. It said the Aug. 29 proposal also would rescind methane emissions limits for the production and processing segments of the industry but would keep emissions limits for ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Officials from the American Petroleum Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and Interstate Natural Gas Association of America immediately welcomed the proposed changes. EPA said the proposed changes specifically would include well completions, pneumatic pumps, pneumatic controllers, gathering and boosting compressors, natural gas processing plants, and storage tanks. Controls to reduce emissions of VOCs also reduce methane at the same time, so separate methane limitations for that segment of the industry are redundant, it indicated.

In an alternate proposal, EPA would rescind methane emissions limits from oil and gas transmission and storage segments without removing them from regulation. Comments on the proposals will be accepted for 60 days following their publication in the Federal Register, which EPA expected in a few days. The agency also would hold a public hearing on the proposals.

“We support EPA’s efforts to adhere to its statutory obligations under the Clean Air Act,” said Erik Milito, API vice-president of upstream and industry operations. “Under this proposal, the oil and gas sector will continue to be effectively regulated. The regulation of [VOCs] drives down methane emissions and allows for innovation and technological advancements that help environmental performance and strengthen industry’s actions to reduce emissions.”

IPAA Executive Vice-Pres. Lee O. Fuller said, “IPAA has consistently believed and recommended that a VOC-based program is the appropriate pathway for regulating oil and gas production emissions. American producers are committed to managing their greenhouse gas emissions and continue to invest in the development of new technologies to mitigate and reduce emissions. These actions have and will continue to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production operations.”

INGAA Pres. Donald F. Santa noted that the interstate gas pipeline systems which comprise INGAA’s membership have a long history of minimizing methane emissions from their operations. “They agreed to these voluntary commitments because reducing methane emissions is socially and environmentally responsible, and good business for gas transmission and storage companies,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@endeavorb2b.com.

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