Friday, January 22, 2016

EPA to Finalize Suite of Methane Rules This Spring

Methane emissions from industrial sources (Credit: Greg Nash) Click to Enlarge.
U.S. EPA plans to roll out a suite of rules covering methane emissions from new oil and gas industry operations this spring as part of a broader post-Paris climate agenda, the agency's acting air chief said this week.

But Janet McCabe indicated the agency is not currently looking into national rules for existing facilities, a key ask of environmentalists in the wake of the massive methane leak from a natural gas storage facility in Southern California.

McCabe said EPA's role in California was making sure "people are bringing all the appropriate and technical tools."  She was responding to a question about whether rules for existing facilities were on the table.

"I think it is an example of why we all need to be working together and with the industry," McCabe said in a Greenwire interview at EPA headquarters, "to make sure that we understand where the vulnerabilities are with these systems and what are the best tools, at what level of government to help make sure they get addressed."

McCabe outlined an aggressive agenda for EPA's air office in 2016 as President Obama attempts to cement his legacy of fighting climate change before leaving office.

The Obama administration has pledged that the United States will reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels.  In Paris more than 190 nations agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 C.

Implementation of the Clean Power Plan will figure high in the acting air chief's work this year. Along with the methane rules, EPA is also poised in the first half of the year to finalize greenhouse gas regulations for heavy-duty vehicles, evaluate fuel efficiency standards for light-duty vehicles, and finalize a finding that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes are an endangerment under the Clean Air Act.

McCabe said the Paris agreement didn't necessarily change her work but rather created a "renewed interest in making sure that we finish the things that are still partway done."

Of the remaining items on the Obama administration's climate agenda, reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is getting a sharp look as the potent greenhouse gas continues to leak from Southern California Gas Co.'s Aliso Canyon storage facility in the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles.

The Interior Department is set to soon release rules covering methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands.

Read more at EPA to Finalize Suite of Methane Rules This Spring

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