WASHINGTON – The American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC) submitted comments today to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Agency’s Initial Methane Notice, which was published in the Federal Register on November 15, 2021. AXPC’s comments underscore the importance of regulating methane emissions from our sector in a way that encourages innovation and flexibility; incentivizes technologies for compliance; appropriately assesses feasibility, costs, and benefits; avoids duplicative regulations with states; and is in line with the Clean Air Act.
“AXPC supports EPA’s work to continue to drive down methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector and hopes the Agency will consider our suggestions when drafting regulatory text for a rule that is more workable around areas such as alternative technologies, applicability and compliance, and survey requirements for upstream production facilities. We also encourage EPA to embrace state flexibility for existing source regulations and provide adequate time for states to develop plans for implementation after publication of regulatory text,” said AXPC CEO Anne Bradbury.
AXPC is supportive of many aspects of EPA’s Initial Methane Notice and provides specific details with regard to some concerns with the technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and legal soundness of some provisions, such as:
- Alternative technologies for LDAR: AXPC is strongly supportive of EPA’s consideration of an alternate pathway to allow for alternative screening technologies and recommends a framework approach that determines the LDAR frequency based on the capability of the technology.
- Appendix K Protocol for Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) Surveys: AXPC explains that Appendix K, as written, is not appropriate to be used for upstream sources and recommends instead that OGI Protocols for the upstream industry be based on OOOOa requirements.
- Pneumatics: AXPC generally supports efforts to reduce emissions from pneumatic devices but recommends that EPA use “non-emitting” instead of “zero emitting” as more precise terminology, and stresses that EPA must allow for flexibility in determining the best operational approach. For existing sites, AXPC explains that there should be a de minimis threshold for sites with only a few pneumatics and suggests improvements to the way EPA considers changes to an existing site that would trigger new source requirements.
- Storage vessels: In general, AXPC supports EPA’s move to a tank battery approach in its regulation of storage vessels. However, AXPC recommends that EPA clarify the definition of “affected facility” to better fulfill EPA’s intent. AXPC encourages the continued use of state program alternatives to reduce recordkeeping and reporting requirements for storage vessels and further recommends adjustments to EPA’s definition of what would constitute a modification of a tank battery, to be consistent with the statute.
- Liquids unloading: AXPC supports the use of best management practices as a work practice standard for minimized emissions from liquids unloading events that result in venting. However, EPA’s terminology is overly broad and would unnecessarily apply burdensome requirements for no emissions reduction benefit. AXPC recommends that EPA align definitions and reporting with existing EPA greenhouse gas reporting requirements for gas wells utilizing venting liquids unloading techniques and avoid adding undue compliance costs and challenges for non-venting liquids unloading.
- Applicability: AXPC raises serious concerns regarding EPA’s treatment of an affected facility as both a new source and an existing source at the same time. Further, AXPC urges EPA to change the applicability date for what will be considered a new source to the date of publication in the Federal Register of the actual regulatory text for those sources.
- Compliance dates: AXPC explains that additional time for compliance is needed due to: (1) lack of regulatory text needed for companies to know how to comply with new requirements; and (2) global supply chain issues that are also affecting the industry’s ability to get components and equipment that will be needed to meet a new EPA standard.
- Recordkeeping and reporting: AXPC urges EPA to minimize any unnecessary, duplicative recordkeeping and reporting requirements that overlap with those from other state, local, or federal agencies.
- State plans: In the comments, AXPC explains that it is important for the regulatory text to provide for states to be given an appropriate amount of time to develop their plans and for subsequent implementation. AXPC urges EPA to provide the broadest possible degree of flexibility to states in developing their plans that establish standards of performance for existing sources, in keeping with the cooperative-federalist text in the statute and recognizing that states have been leaders in developing appropriate regulations.
AXPC’s comments on EPA’s Initial Methane Notice, Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review (RIN 2060-AV16), can be found on our website here.
About 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/