Update on EPA Oil & Gas Methane Proposal
In mid-June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held listening sessions to gather input for a proposed new rule to regulate methane from new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas industry.
The EPA actions are in response to President Biden’s Executive order 13990. Executive order 13990 called on EPA to consider issuing a proposed rule by September 2021 to strengthen standards for methane emissions from new, reconstructed, and modified oil and natural gas sources and to address methane emissions from existing sources. However, the U.S. Senate’s use of the CRA to rescind the Trump rule significantly complicates the EPA’s effort to issue a new methane rule in September 2021. The CRA requires that any new replacement regulation that would be passed cannot be “substantially similar” to the one already repealed under the CRA without explicit Congressional approval. A new strictly “methane” rule would not pass that test.
The EPA’s listening sessions were held June 15th-17th. The EPA heard from a multitude of concerned citizens. Former KIOGA Chairman Nick Powell provided comments on June 16th, and KIOGA President Edward Cross provided comments on June 17th. Other oil and gas producers and groups from across the nation also made comments along with environmental activists and others. In general, industry comments focused on cost of compliance issues and the need for the EPA to recognize the low production well emission profile.
EPA has also established a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel to review oil and natural gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). KIOGA President Edward Cross was invited to participate as a “Small Entity Representative” (SER) on the SBAR and met with EPA in a Zoom meeting on June 29th and again on July 6th.
KIOGA’s comments to the EPA during the listening session and SBAR meeting emphasized the Kansas oil and gas industry’s recognition of the importance of environmentally sound, cost-effective regulations to manage methane emissions. KIOGA encouraged EPA to find a regulatory pathway designed for the sources it regulates. Big new oil and natural gas wells and low producing older wells have differing emission profiles. KIOGA told the EPA that any regulatory actions should recognize the differences between these existing small operations and newly built large facilities.
The EPA is accepting written comments on the proposal through July 30th. KIOGA will be submitting comprehensive written comments during the public comment period.
EPA Announces Intent to Revise Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule – In June, the EPA announced their intent to revise the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Department of Justice is filing a motion to remand the rule. EPA stated their intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the regulations in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS. Further details of the EPA’s plans, including opportunity for public participation, will be conveyed in a forthcoming action.