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California Approves Nation's Toughest Methane Emissions Rule
"While the federal government may be going backwards, California is going to be moving forwards,” Tim O’Connor, director of the California oil and gas program at the Environmental Defense Fund, told reporters in a conference call Wednesday, reported Rob Nikolewski for the Union-Tribune.
On the federal level, O'Connor was referring to the use of the Congressional Review Act to "overturn an Obama drilling rule" to limit the venting and flaring of methane emissions on federal lands. [More information at end of post.]
"California air quality officials have approved what are widely considered to be the most rigorous and comprehensive regulations in the country for controlling methane emissions, a move that helps cement the state’s status as a standard-bearer for environmental protection," reports Dominic Fracassa for the San Francisco Chronicle. The rule, "Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Crude Oil and Natural Gas Facilities" (pdf) "seek(s) to curb methane emissions at oil and gas production plants by up to 45 percent over the next nine years."
Methane as a greenhouse gas
Critics of the rule were quick to note that the oil and gas industry is not the largest emitter of the second most prevalent greenhouse gas, pound for pound about 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According the the pie chart on page 5 of the CARB presentation (pdf), agriculture is responsible for 58 percent, followed by landfills at 20 percent, pipelines at 9 percent, and oil and gas extraction and storage at 4 percent.
“Our industry is not the top emitter of methane in the state, yet this rule will add to the nation’s toughest regulations that our operators must follow, such as cap and trade,” Rock Zierman, the chief executive officer of industry trade group the California Independent Petroleum Association, said in a statement. “We hope that regulators will provide ample time for implementation and ensure that the program is fairly and consistently enforced across the state.”
Federal Methane Emissions rule
A few final notes on the federal attempt to rescind the aforementioned rule on venting and flaring of methane from oil and natural gas drilling sites on federal and Indian lands. On Feb 3, the House passed a resolution (H.J.Res.36) to reverse the Department of Interior's Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. E&E News reports on March 22 that Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has encountered difficulties in rounding up votes for their resolution, S.J. Res. 11.
- United States
- Government / Politics
- Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Field
- Congressional Review Act
- Environmental Regulations
- Methane Emissions
- Methane Flaring
- Natural Gas
- Natural Gas Storage
- Oil Production
- California Air Resources Board
- California Independent Petroleum Association
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Sen. John Barrasso
- Sen. Susan Collins
- Sen. Lindsey Graham
- Tim O'Connor