The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced final rules for the disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry, one of the largest sources of methane, a potent global warming pollutant.
"Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and the public has a right to know about the extensive methane pollution that is leaked, vented, and flared from the oil and gas industry," said Dr. Ramon Alvarez, an atmospheric scientist with Environmental Defense Fund. "EPA’s action in requiring disclosure of this harmful pollutant will mean more rigorous information and smarter policies to address these emissions."
"For far too long the public has been kept in the dark about the large volumes of pollution released from facilities in the oil and gas sector," said Emma Cheuse, an attorney at Earthjustice. "EPA’s action will strengthen public accountability for this major source of global warming pollution."
Under today’s final rule, data collection will begin in January 2011, and reporting of annual emissions to EPA will begin in March 2012.
EPA estimates that the rule will cover 85 percent of the greenhouse gas discharges from the oil and gas sector and will require reporting by about 2,800 facilities. EPA also finalized rules requiring inventory and disclosure for large sources of fluorinated gases.
EPA’s action for the oil and gas sector requires annual reporting of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from flaring, equipment leaks, offshore petroleum and natural gas production, onshore production facilities, liquefied natural gas imports and exports, and onshore transmission and distribution. EPA, however, has not completed final rules for the gathering lines and boosting stations at onshore natural gas and petroleum processing and production operations.
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas with a warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide. The oil and gas industry is the second largest contributor to U.S. methane emissions, accounting for 23% of methane emissions in the United States in 2007.
Rigorous emissions data is the foundation of well-designed public policy. Access to facility-based data from the oil and gas sector is a critical first step towards achieving well-designed emissions reductions.
In addition to the oil and gas rules, EPA has finalized rules for high-potency greenhouse gases that would require reporting from producers of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and other fluorinated greenhouse gas products, electronics manufacturing, manufacturers of electrical equipment, and importers of pre-charged equipment and certain foams.