The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new greenhouse gas regulations for our industry that will target source aggregation. They plan on having a deal put together by 2016 and before President Obama leaves office. Since this ruling is being proposed under Section 111b of the Clean Air Act, it’s likelihood of it becoming law is very good.
The new ruling will add to or amend the EPA’s previous New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the oil and gas sector. Many environmentalists have been looking for a law to control methane emissions directly, as the existing rules only cover VOC’s that are seen on the upstream side of the industry. The EPA is looking to expand the sources from which VOC’s are currently being emitted from. The sources being sought for regulation in this law are;
- Completions of hydraulically fractured well
- Pneumatic devices
- Liquids unloading operations
If this law comes into fruition, it will be the first time that greenhouse gases from the oil and gas industry will be targeted under the Clean Air Act. If the EPA includes this under the clean air act they will first have to show what the original Clean Air Act calls “affirmative endangerment,” as this is a prerequisite for regulating source emissions. Lobbyists from the oil and gas sector may state that voluntary reductions in Greenhouse gas emissions have been productive in reducing emissions enough to stop an endangerment finding by the EPA. Since methane has already been proven numerous times to be an “endangerment finding” by the EPA , this will likely be an uphill battle for the oil and gas representatives in Washington.
If that wasn’t enough, the EPA is also looking into another proposal that may create a stir in the industry. The “Source Determination for Certain Emissions Units in the Oil and Natural Gas Sector,” proposal will lay out rules that will say how they can aggregate sources and place those sources under more stringent permitting and may even expand the sources that are subject to the new NSPS rule spoken about above.
Further reading on the subject can be found below: