EPA Proposing Looser Methane Leak Regulations


The USEPA has proposed a new rule that will relax the regulation of methane emissions at oil and gas facilities.  Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.  A mole of CH4 emitted today lasts about 10 years  in the atmosphere on average, which is much less time than CO2.  But, because CH4 absorbs much more energy than CO2 (CH4 is 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2) it has an outsize impact on climate change (but for a shorter time period).  

The plan announced today by EPA will roll back key provisions of the current methane regulations.  The new proposal reduces the frequency of emissions monitoring at oil and natural gas wells from twice a year to once a year or even every other year.  Facilities that compress gas for transport through pipelines will have their monitoring frequencies cut in half from 4 times a year to just twice.  It will also extend the time that companies will have to repair leaks of this potent greenhouse gas from 30 days to 60 days.  Here's the proposal summary: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/frnoilgasreconsideration2060-at54nprm20180910.pdf

At least it won’t let companies completely off the hook, but then that’s looking through rose-colored glasses I guess.

This new rollback hasn’t been published in the UA Administrative Register yet, and comments are not yet open.  The 60-day comment period will begin once it’s published in the Register.  The Docket ID number will be EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0483 with comments at www.regulations.gov.