The US Environmental Protection Agency has launched a set of standards to reduce methane, VOC and toxic air emissions in the oil and natural gas industry.
As part of President Obama’s pledge to take action on climate change and to protect public health these standards address methane emissions from both new and existing sources in both industries.
In addition the EPA is also starting the process to control emissions from existing sources by issuing an information collection request that requires companies to provide the information that will be necessary for the agency to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources.
The new standards are part of the Administration’s strategy to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.
The standards will significantly curb methane emissions from new, reconstructed and modified processes and equipment along with reducing VOC emissions from sources not covered in the agency’s 2012 rules. These include hydraulically fractured oil wells and equipment used in the industry that was not regulated in the 2012 rules.
The final rule requires leak monitoring surveys twice as often at compressor stations, which have the potential for significant emissions.
The final standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce 510,000 short tons of methane in 2025, the equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The agency estimates that the final rule will yield climate benefits of $690 million in 2025.
Additionally, the standards are expected to reduce 210,000 short tons of ozone-forming VOCs in 2025, along with 3,900 tons of air toxics, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.