EPA’s Final Rules on New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Allow for Innovation to Drive Emissions Reductions in American Energy Production

WASHINGTON – Today, the American Exploration and Production Council underscored how the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rules addressing the regulation of emissions from domestic oil and natural gas production allow for innovation and technological advancements to drive emissions reductions in American energy production.

“US independent oil and natural gas producers invest millions of dollars in innovative emissions-reducing technologies and take numerous voluntary steps to reduce the environmental impacts from their operations,” said AXPC CEO Anne Bradbury.  “EPA’s commitment to following the Clean Air Act protects health and the environment, effectively regulates emissions from our industry, and allows for the responsible production of oil and gas. Through these rules, EPA streamlines regulatory requirements while also importantly recognizing the role that technology and innovation play in advancing efforts to reduce emissions.”

BACKGROUND:
EPA continues to regulate the emissions from independent oil and gas producers and EPA’s new rules will provide more flexibility for AXPC member companies to innovate and apply emission-reducing technologies. Notably:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – along with Methane – are still controlled: The impact on emission control requirements for production, gathering and boosting, and gas processing segments remain unchanged. The Rule rescinds methane emission standards for new sources in the oil and natural gas production source category while retaining VOC standards for the same sources, as the two standards are duplicative. The Rule’s rescission of the direct regulation of methane does not mean that methane is not controlled for those sectors.
  • Streamline the requirements of the 2016 rule: including reducing unnecessary paperwork and recordkeeping, while removing hurdles to innovation and focusing on regulating VOC emissions, which simultaneously reduces methane emissions.
  • Leak Detection and Repair Requirements: EPA’s Final Rules set up a schedule for how often these leak detection surveys should be completed, requiring most well-site surveys and compressor stations surveys to be conducted twice a year.


In EPA’s final technical rule for the NSPS
, EPA is reducing the significant, undue burdens associated with recordkeeping and reporting and has chosen reasonable monitoring frequencies that are most legally defensible.

Notably, the technical rule also: removes the requirement for fugitive emissions monitoring for low production well sites, which have unique emissions profiles and economics; expands an existing control device exemption for pneumatic pumps that are technically infeasible to route to a control device to all pneumatic pumps at well sites; streamlines the process for requesting alternate means of emission limitation (AMEL) for emerging technologies, to help facilitate emissions reductions; and makes other amendments to improve implementation of the standards.

US independent oil and gas producers are committed to continuously improving the industry’s environmental performance.

  • All AXPC member companies are members of The Environmental Partnership, which provides a forum for sharing best practices to reduce environmental footprint and in which participants commit to acting to further reduce emissions using proven, cost-effective controls targeting three of the most significant sources of emissions. Selected based on EPA emissions data, these programs consist of: detecting and repairing leaks; focusing on high-bleed pneumatic controllers; and, improving the manual liquids unloading process.
  • Methane emission rates from five of the largest producing regions across the U.S. have fallen more than 60 percent from 2011 to 2018 – even during a time when production in those regions has increased dramatically. Environmental progress will continue under this Rule, and indirect regulation of methane will continue because existing regulation of emissions of VOCs associated with natural gas and oil production also reduces methane as a co-benefit.

 

About the American Exploration and Production Council:
The American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC) is a national trade association representing the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in the United States. We lead the world in the cleanest and safest onshore production of oil and gas, while supporting millions of Americans in high-paying jobs and investing a wealth of resources in our communities. Learn more at https://www.axpc.org/

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