United States: Congress rolls back changes to Trump-era methane rule, restoring previous standards
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Last night, President Biden signed Congressional resolution to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reject a September 2020 rule from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that repeals emission standards for methane for the oil and gas industry. The Trump-era rule, titled “The Oil and Natural Gas Sector: A Review of Emission Standards for New, Replenished and Modified Sources,” allegedly sought to remove “regulatory duplication” while maintaining protection from the environment. Specifically, the Trump-era rule repealed new source performance standards for volatile organic compound and methane emissions applicable to transportation and storage sources; repealed the specific methane standards applicable to production and processing sources; and demanded that the EPA publish a determination that an air pollutant significantly causes or contributes to “dangerous” air pollution as a prerequisite for setting new standards. Now in effect, the resolution restores Obama-era standards until September 2020.
The Obama-era standards were the most important federal regulations aimed directly at reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, targeting gas wells, storage tanks, controllers, pumps, compressors and onshore natural gas processing plants. In some cases, the standards imposed up to 95% or 100% emission reduction requirements or controls, which the agency said would cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars through 2025. .
The restored standards do not mark the end of the response of Congressional Democrats and the Biden-Harris administration to emissions from the oil and gas industry. As the CRA bars agencies from enacting a “new rule that is much the same,” the Biden-Harris administration’s recently released unified program on federal regulation and deregulation says the EPA will propose new methane emissions guidelines for the oil and gas industry, which, according to President Biden’s public message, “will require[e] aggressive methane pollution limits. Meanwhile, the administration is reviewing the Home Office’s fossil fuel leasing program, with notable changes to the existing federal regime almost certainly to follow. These are just a few of the many steps the administration has taken and will continue to take in an attempt to meet the United States’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement. .
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