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The Facts About Industry Leadership, Methane Emissions, and so-called “Regulatory Rollback”


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Myth vs Fact: Industry Leadership, Methane Emissions, and the “Regulatory Rollback”

Myth: Methane emissions are increasing as a result of America’s domestic energy revolution.

Fact: U.S. methane emissions are down even as America continues to produce more affordable, reliable, and cleaner natural gas. While U.S. natural gas production grew more than 50 percent from 1990 to 2017, methane emissions dropped 14 percent. In the Permian Basin, production surged 100 percent from 2011 to 2017, but methane emissions relative to production declined nearly 40 percent. In the Eagle Ford basin, production grew 130 percent over the same time period, and methane emissions relative to production fell nearly 70 percent. (Sources for this are EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program and EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report)

Separately, a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study indicated that there has been “no large increase of total methane emissions in the United States in the past decade.” The analysis further concluded there has been “major overestimation” of industry’s methane emissions in some previous studies.

Myth: The EPA’s reconsideration of its New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with natural gas and oil production threaten environmental protections and is a “regulatory rollback.”

Fact: On the contrary, modifying the NSPS could reduce duplication with state programs, provide greater clarity for industry in its regulatory compliance and, ultimately, further lower methane and other emissions and protect the environment. Nearly 90 percent of all U.S. natural gas and oil production will be regulated under the EPA’s NSPS by 2023. In fact, this procedural correction is best described as a realignment with the agency’s obligations under the Clean Air Act.

The well-worn “rollback” tale also dismisses the fact that it will still effectively regulate emissions, as well as industry’s leadership and laser-focus on reducing emissions through technology, innovation and industry initiative – such as The Environmental Partnership. Bottom line: methane is natural gas, and the industry is highly motivated to capture every molecule of it not only for environmental reasons, but for business reasons too.

Myth: The U.S. natural gas and oil industry opposes the regulation of methane.

Fact: The natural gas and oil industry supports smart regulations, including the ongoing emissions controls both through the cost-effective regulation of volatile organic compounds that reduce methane emissions, and measurable industry action, like The Environmental Partnership, to incorporate methane reducing technologies throughout the supply chain. An API issue brief explains the background of NSPS regulation of VOCs, which has reduced methane emissions as a co-benefit, and industry’s emissions reduction success.