The Obama EPA issued Clean Air Act (CAA) new source performance standards (NSPS) for emissions of methane and VOCs from certain components in 2016. These included requirements that industry monitor for methane and other pollutants and repair all leaks found within 30 days.
Following the instructions of Executive Order 13873 that executive branch agencies review and reduce the regulatory burden on the energy sector, the EPA attempted to "stay" implementation of the 2016 NSPS. (Link to the SciPol brief on EO 13873 here.) When that effort was halted as administratively improper by the federal courts, EPA began a formal notice and comment rulemaking procedure to revise the 2016 Rule. This proposed rule, published in the federal register on October 15, 2018, is the result.
The proposed rule would ease the provisions of the 2016 NSPS for the oil and gas sector in several ways. It would:
- Decrease the frequency with which well sites and compressor stations must be monitored for fugitive emissions.
- Lengthen the compliance timeframe for repairing any leaks found.
- Allow industry to comply with state rather than federal regulations, if they are deemed equivalently effective to the 2016 NSPS.
The proposed rule is expected to lead to $75 million a year in cost savings, but at the price of increased methane and VOC emissions. In order to comply with requirements that all new regulations be cost-benefit positive, and lower the costs of the proposed rule, the EPA revised down the figures it uses to price the social cost of methane.
The public comment period for the proposed rule closes on December 17, 2018.