Modernization of EPA Natural Gas and Oil Standards Enables Continued Emissions Reductions
Posted August 13, 2020
The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has long shared the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) goal of reducing emissions from its operations and has consistently and successfully done so while meeting America’s energy needs every day. Specifically, methane is the natural gas we use in our homes and businesses, so operators have a strong incentive to bring it to market.
Methane emissions rates from five of the largest oil and natural gas producing regions across the U.S. – including the Permian and Marcellus basins in Texas, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively – were down nearly 70% from 2011 to 2018, even as production in those regions increased dramatically. Industry is committed to building on these positive trends through voluntary initiatives like The Environmental Partnership.
Announced this afternoon, EPA’s finalized changes to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for oil and natural gas facilities allow such progress to continue apace. Additionally, the modified rules further align EPA with its statutory obligations under the Clean Air Act while enabling continued emissions reductions, protecting public health and the environment.
The changes allow operators to meet certain state regulations as an alternative to EPA requirements where it makes sense – for example, in states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado where strong standards are already in place. Like all industries, we operate best under smart, clear regulation, and in this case, such regulation allows for emissions reductions and vital energy production to occur.
There may be conflicting narratives being spun about today’s news, but let’s be clear – these modified rules still require operators to control emissions, including methane. Meanwhile, the industry continues to take important steps toward reducing methane emissions using new research and technologies.
After decades of relying on foreign regimes, America leads the world in oil and natural gas production. We are motivated to capture methane emissions not only because it is best for our environment but because it is a valuable part of our product offering. We work hard to achieve this progress, and we are proud to demonstrate our commitment to improving and building on it.
About The Author
Frank Macchiarola became API senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs in 2019 after previously serving as vice president of downstream and industry operations since 2016. Macchiarola came to API from America’s Natural Gas Alliance, where he was the organization’s executive vice president. A Capitol Hill veteran, he held several senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate including with the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. Macchiarola is a graduate of the College of Holy Cross and earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law.