EPA releases new oil and gas pollution guidelines

EPA releases new oil and gas pollution guidelines
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Federal regulators on Thursday finalized new guidelines to reduce emissions of ozone-forming pollutants for oil and gas drilling sites. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new guidelines are nonbinding. But they’re designed to help states that have not met federal ozone limits, laying out ways for those states to reduce ozone-causing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from oil and gas sites.  

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The regulations are part of an Obama administration strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. 

VOC emissions controls at oil an gas drilling sites also reduce methane, and the EPA predicts the new guidelines released on Thursday will cut 200,000 tons of methane pollution. 

EPA’s new guidelines direct states to reduce VOC emissions from sources along the oil and gas production process, from storage tanks to transmission lines and pipelines. The guidelines cover 28 areas across the country that do not meet federal ozone requirements, as well as 11 states in the Northeast. 

The oil and gas industry hit back against the regulations on Thursday, saying officials shouldn’t finalize new limits on the industry until they collect more pollution information from producers. 

“Moving forward with these guidelines without robust data could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on the industry, while adding potentially significant costs to the American economy, jobs, consumers and the environment,” Howard Feldman, the senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement.

Thursday’s regulations come after an Obama administration assault on methane emissions around the United States. The EPA has issued limits on methane leaks at new oil and gas drilling sites. It’s currently writing new rules for existing drilling sites, but those are unlikely to be finalized until the next administration.