Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Obama expands methane emissions crackdown

MORE LIMITS FOR OIL AND GAS: The Obama administration announced Thursday that it’ll expand its crackdown on methane emissions to cover the hundreds of thousands of existing oil and natural gas wells.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to work on a rule for existing wells, expanding on last year’s proposal for strict methane output limits on new wells.

The Obama administration rolled out the announcement Thursday along with Canada, which is planning similar measures. It coincided with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit.

{mosads}”We’ll be bringing the same urgency to this task as we have to all our methane work over the last four years,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters.

McCarthy said the EPA will begin tackling the issue “immediately,” beginning with asking oil and gas companies to provide the agency with information on methane emissions and reduction strategies. The EPA said companies will be required to report certain data about methane output next month.

“I’m confident the end result of this effort will be a common-sense, reasonable standard to reduce methane emissions that are contributing to climate change,” she said.

The oil industry was outraged, calling the proposal unnecessary and overly expensive, and saying it could end the shale gas boom.

Read more here and here.

OBAMA, TRUDEAU UNITE ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Obama hailed the new climate partnership between the U.S. and Canada during a press conference on Thursday.

In addition to the methane regulations, both countries pledged to quickly sign the Paris climate deal reached in December, double clean energy research and development funding over five years, phase out earth-warming hydrofluorocarbons, limit carbon emissions from airplanes and to do more to protect the Arctic.

“I’m especially pleased to say the United States and Canada are fully united in combating climate change,” Obama said.

“Canada’s joining us in our aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries,” he added. “And together we’re going to move swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal.”

Trudeau said he and Obama “share a common goal” of addressing climate change.

Both leaders “want the clean growth economy that continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities for all of our citizens,” he said. “And I’m confident that by working together we’ll get there sooner than we think.”

Read more here.

NELSON SAYS ‘NO NEGOTIATION’: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Thursday he will not negotiate over his hold on a package to reform federal energy laws and provide aid to Flint, Mich.

Nelson does not want to bring the energy bill to the floor unless Republicans drop an amendment to expand an offshore drilling revenue-sharing program. Nelson said he thinks the amendment will eventually lead to oil drilling off the coast of Florida, a possibility he opposes.

“I support the energy bill, obviously, I support the other provisions in it,” he said on Thursday. “But this is a no negotiation part, for me, of what I’ve been doing for 40 years.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who has introduced the amendment in question, said Nelson “needs to read the bill and comprehend the bill and understand that Florida is not involved.”

If Nelson drops his hold, Cassidy said, “we can take care of the people of Flint and also protect the coastline of Louisiana from storms,” which is where the revenue sharing dollars would go.

Lawmakers are still looking for a path forward on the energy bill and Flint aid package. A Congressional Budget Office assessment of the Flint side of the package is still on its way, but members remained optimistic about the bill’s prospects Thursday.

“We’re really close,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said. “I do think we have a path. I feel better than I have.”

Read more here.

ON TAP FRIDAY: Ahead of President Obama’s trip to the country, the Atlantic Council will host an event on the energy sector in Argentina. Daniel Poneman, a former deputy secretary of energy, will speak.

AROUND THE WEB: An OPEC meeting on a supply freeze scheduled for later this month is unlikely to move forward since Iran hasn’t committed to attending, Reuters reports.  

Residents of Porter Ranch, Calif., are returning home after the Aliso Canyon gas leak to find oily residue in some areas, the Los Angeles Times reports.

TransCanada Corp. is considering acquiring a major American pipeline company, the Wall Street Journal reports.


Check out Thursday’s stories …

-Arch Coal backs out of Montana mine project

-Jury awards $4.24M in fracking pollution case

-Feds sued over butterfly protections

-Dem senator: ‘No negotiation’ over hold on energy bill, Flint package

-Obama: US, Canada ‘fully united in combating climate change’

-Feds weaken protections for bears

-Oil lobby: New methane rules threaten boom

-Oil industry pushes back against Exxon climate accusations

-Obama to expand methane leak crackdown in oil and gas industry


Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill  

Tags Bill Nelson Canada Climate change Gina McCarthy Methane Natural gas

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