EPA tightens proposed methane rules as Biden visits climate summit

Biden-Drilling
This Feb. 26, 2021, file photo shows an oil well east of Casper, Wyo. The Biden administration is raising royalty rates that companies must pay for oil and natural gas extracted from federal lands as it moves forward under court order with sales of public fossil fuel reserves in nine states. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File) Mead Gruver/AP

EPA tightens proposed methane rules as Biden visits climate summit

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The Environmental Protection Agency announced revisions to its proposed methane rule in order to more aggressively regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas from oil and gas sources.

EPA’s supplemental proposal, released Friday, builds on an initial proposed rule announced last November that would apply to new well sites and also regulate “existing” well sites for the first time.

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Methane is the main component in natural gas and has exponentially more warming potential than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere.

The supplement put out Friday includes new requirements for regular monitoring of sites for “fugitive emissions,” or leaks, and it would base monitoring requirements on the amount and types of equipment at a site, rather than on estimated emissions — a change from the earlier proposal.

It also includes new requirements for owners or operators to route “associated gas,” gas accompanying petroleum deposits, to a sales line, or otherwise make use of the fuel rather than flare it or burn it off.

EPA estimates the climate benefits of the rule, calculated based on estimates of the social cost of methane, to be $48 billion between 2023 and 2035. Compliance over the same period is estimated to cost $19 billion to the industry.

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The announcement coincides with President Joe Biden’s attendance at the United Nations climate change conference, known as “COP27,” on Friday.

The administration announced its initial proposal last November to coincide with the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

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