EPA Finalizes Methane Emissions Proposal

Last week the Biden Administration finalized a climate rule, mandating significant reductions in methane emissions from oil fields, with a primary focus on Texas, the largest oil and gas producing state in the U.S. The announcement was made during the 28th international United Nations climate summit in Dubai.  The rule aims to restrict methane emissions, addressing concerns about the rising global concentration of methane, which saw unprecedented spikes in recent years.

Most methane emissions in the U.S. arise from the energy sector, particularly in Texas’ Permian Basin, where environmental groups criticized operators for inadequate measures to prevent substantial methane venting into the atmosphere.

Key elements of the regulation include phasing out routine flaring of natural gas and mandating stringent monitoring of equipment for methane leaks. Companies must comply with the regulation’s diverse monitoring technology options. Additionally, a ‘super emitter’ program will target large methane releases.

Some major oil and gas companies, including Exxon Mobil and Shell, committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, discontinuing routine flaring by 2030 and significantly reducing methane emissions.

While industry groups are reviewing the regulation’s impact, some have expressed concerns about its costs and implications on energy demand. The regulation empowers states to enforce it and allows a two-year timeline for implementation plans, responding to calls for an extended deadline.

The Administration estimates that the regulation will slash 58 million tons of methane emissions between 2024 and 2038, nearly equivalent to the 2021 carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. However, Texas regulatory agencies have contested these estimates, citing potential legal challenges based on Supreme Court decisions limiting federal agencies’ authority over emissions.

Environmental groups in Texas hailed the regulation, emphasizing the state’s need for stringent federal oversight, citing concerns about state agencies’ lax approach toward greenhouse gas emissions from the massive oil sector.

To learn more about this new EPA Federal Climate rule visit:  EPA’s Final Rule for Oil and Natural Gas Operations Will Sharply Reduce Methane and Other Harmful Pollution. | US EPA