Energy & Environment

Senior EPA official hints at possible supplement to methane rule

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One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) senior air quality officials said Thursday that the agency is exploring adding supplements to its methane rule based on feedback received during its public comment period.

Asked why the rule as announced does not include a phaseout of routine methane flaring, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Joe Goffman emphasized what he said is the agency’s ambition for the final rule at the U.N. COP26 international climate summit.

“We’re using the myriad requests for specific comment in this proposal to try to get at … some of these issues, whether it’s coverage of sources and practices like flaring or the continual campaign that we and others have to improve the data, to continually bring it closer and closer into alignment as a reliable indicator of reality,” he said.

“That’s going to be part of what we hope the record for this proposal will create, which we can then reflect in a supplemental proposal, which we then can carry forward in a final action,” he continued.

Goffman also said the EPA is exploring the possibility of expanding the role of front-line communities affected by methane emissions in the cleanup process.

“One of the things we’ve proposed or at least introduced as a concept actually represents the convergence of the community-level public health objectives of this rule and the technology innovation objectives,” he said.

“What we’ve introduced in this proposal is a path by which communities can undertake their own monitoring of facilities, report data — and again, this is still conceptual — create an obligation on the part of operators who are associated with that data to undertake additional repairs or replacement of their equipment,” he explained.

Goffman presented the methane rulemaking as the result of years of work within the agency, saying that while “in many ways” it was only possible under the leadership of President Biden and Administrator Michael Regan, it was “the culmination of years of work the EPA has done.”

That work, he said, had allowed the agency to “establish … the architecture you need to then move to a policy where you’re mandating emissions reductions.”

Tags COP26 EPA Joe Biden methane rule Michael Regan
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