Attention turns to EPA on methane regulation after Biden action

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President BidenJoe BidenBiden stresses unity in remarks on July 4: “America is reconstituting itself” Governor of Oregon: death toll from heat wave is “absolutely unacceptable” Army braces for radical change in justice reform PLUSRestoring Obama-era rules on methane emissions shifts all attention to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as regulators say they plan to crack down further on the powerful greenhouse gas.

Biden last week signed legislation removing a throwback to the Trump era, reinstating the 2016 regulations that sought to limit emissions of new sources of methane pollution in the oil and gas industry.

While many supporters have supported the rebirth of the Obama rule, they also argue that it has not gone far enough, especially when it comes to tackling long-standing sources of emissions.

“There are many sources that exist, so the rules of the Obama era were the first step,” said Lauren Pagel, policy director for the environmental group Earthworks.

“This was obviously finalized quite at the end of the Obama administration. If the next administration had stepped in and been environmentally friendly and wanted to deal with climate change, it would have quickly put in place those existing source standards. “

Officials in the Biden administration have said they will review the regulation of existing sources of methane, which is more potent than carbon dioxide but does not stay in the atmosphere for as long.

The EPA said in its recently released report regulatory agenda that it will consider proposing new regulations “to establish guidelines on methane emissions from existing operations in the oil and gas sector” by September.

In particular, the agency said it would examine the exploration, production, transportation, processing and storage of oil and gas.

The plans drawn up in the agenda also said that the EPA would consider proposing new regulations to set “global” standards for the sector’s new sources of methane emissions.

While it’s not clear how much the new regulations would reduce methane emissions, several advocacy groups told The Hill they would like to see a 65% reduction by 2025.

Pagel was one of the many advocates who cited a 2020 Clean Air Task Force paper which paves the way for reducing emissions by 65 percent, using 2012 as the base year.

She said a 65% cut is significant and would likely hold up in court.

“The climate crisis warrants the strictest rules under the Clean Air Act to reduce methane emissions that we believe are legally defensible,” she said.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency has yet to take a position on emission reduction targets, but confirmed to The Hill that it is working on reducing methane from new and existing sources. in the oil and gas industry by proposing new standards and guidelines.

“Reducing methane is an important step in the fight against climate change. We believe we will need all the tools at our disposal – including voluntary and regulatory programs – as we work to reduce this potent greenhouse gas, ”spokesman Tim Carroll said in an email. .

“As we develop these requirements, we are looking extensively at mitigation opportunities, including leakage, ventilation and flaring, and we are interested in developing a rule that will allow homeowners and operators to integrate advances in emission detection and measurement technology. ” he added.

EPA administrator Michael reganMichael ReganOVERNIGHT ENERGY: the Federal government withdraws its decision authorizing the use of radioactive materials in road construction | EPA would use two-step approach to vehicle emissions | Elsa strengthens in first hurricane of Atlantic season EPA withdraws rule allowing use of radioactive material in road construction Majority of House Democrats urges to keep climate provisions in PLUS infrastructure package said he believes reducing methane emissions could play a key role in Biden’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by the end of the decade.

“There is a lot of room to be more ambitious because markets have changed, technology has changed and companies now understand the urgency and are more willing to discuss it today than they were before,” did he declare. Reuters in April, adding that methane reductions could be a “big part of the pie” on the 2030 target.

Natural gas and petroleum systems are the second largest source of methane emissions in the United States, according to the EPA. Some of the ways it is released is by leaking or burning excess gas in a process called flaring.

The legislative effort to get rid of Trump-era setbacks on methane rules was largely partisan, with just three Senate Republicans and a dozen House GOP lawmakers joining Democrats in overturning the rule. the Trump administration.

Opponents argued that stricter regulation could hurt small producers, but big industry players have supported efforts to overturn the Trump rule, saying in statements they support common sense regulation on greenhouse-effect gas.

Some companies also say they would be open to further regulation, a BP spokesperson saying the company “supports direct federal regulation of methane from new and existing sources.”

Shell US President Gretchen Watkins added that the company would work with the EPA and Congress on “additional policies that would further reduce methane emissions.”

Rosalie Winn, senior counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund which also supports a 65% cut, said there were signs of consensus that more needs to be done on methane.

“There will likely be ongoing discussions and debates about what exactly standards should be and at what level they should seek to reduce emissions, but I think there is growing a broader consensus that what standards should be whatever the specific standards, they have to unlock really big emission reductions, ”said Winn.


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