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EPA Issues Final Rule on Oil and Gas Operations to Reduce Methane Emissions

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On December 2nd, EPA issued a final rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations nationwide. This action includes New Source Performance Standards for new, modified, & reconstructed sources and includes Emission Guidelines for states to develop plans to limit methane from existing sources.

Rule Features Worth Noting

The rule allows for third-parties, who will be certified by EPA, to report “super emitter” events, or methane release events. Once the reports are received, EPA will perform QA/QC on the data.

In addition, the rule recognizes and encourages innovation in methane detection technologies including satellite monitoring, aerial surveys, and continuous monitors to find leaks. EPA noted that many of these technologies are often developed and deployed by small businesses.

This rule give states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, two years to develop and submit plans to reduce methane from existing sources. The final emission guidelines will give existing sources 3 years to come into compliance.

Rule Benefits

The final rule targets methane, considered a climate “super pollutant”, and will reportedly avoid an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038 which will yield an estimated financial benefit of $97 to $98 billion dollars during the same time frame. These financial estimates will result from net climate and ozone health benefits due to costs of compliance and savings from recovered natural gas. Many oil and gas operations are located near high population communities.

Additional Information

EPA did a Regulatory Impact Analysis of this final rule which identifies the estimated number of small entities, or small businesses, that may be affected by the rule requirements and bear some costs to come into environmental compliance.

For more information on this final rule, please see the “Key Things to Know” fact sheet and the “Overview” fact sheet”.

Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.