President Biden Announces New Methane Emissions Reduction Strategy

On November 2, 2021, President Biden launched the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan (the “Plan”). The Plan, calling for substantial reductions in U.S. methane emissions, was introduced in tandem with a global settlement to deal with methane emissions, which took middle stage in the course of the second day of the Glasgow UN Local weather Convention (COP26) this week. The home plan begins the ball rolling for a sweeping interagency initiative of upcoming rulemakings and laws that might goal a number of sources of methane emissions throughout america and incentivize additional methane emission discount by voluntary applications.

Key Takeaways

  • The Biden administration goals to replace guidelines for present oil and gasoline infrastructure and impose guidelines for brand spanking new oil and gasoline infrastructure that might lead to a 75% discount in methane emissions from this sector. EPA Administrator Michael Regan has signed the proposed guidelines, and the 60-day public comment period will start quickly (following publication within the Federal Register). There additionally can be two days of public hearings.

  • The Plan would additional goal methane emissions from quite a lot of sources, together with landfills, agriculture, and different sources. Particularly, the Plan requires:

    • Adopting an incentive-based system to scale back methane emissions from landfills with a federally-enforceable “backstop” restrict on methane emissions, with the purpose of lowering methane emissions from landfills by 70%.

    • Addressing methane emissions from agricultural sources by a number of applications aimed toward making a system of agriculture-based carbon sequestration, enhancing markets for low-carbon agricultural merchandise, and capturing agricultural methane emissions to supply renewable power. The USA Division of Agriculture (USDA) has already sought remark this yr on a few of these objects.

    • Rolling out quite a lot of initiatives to scale back methane emissions from industrial sources, primarily by schooling and incentives.

  • The Administration’s Plan will work in tandem with a dedication obtained at COP26 from 100 international locations to scale back methane emissions.

  • Though its destiny continues to be unsure as of this writing, an extra mechanism to deal with methane emissions by a system of charges and rebates to fund emissions-reduction applied sciences could also be included within the reconciliation invoice that’s at the moment making its means by Congress.

  • As a result of methane is a potent greenhouse gasoline (GHG), the Administration’s initiatives characterize a big step in assembly its objectives of (i) attaining economy-wide net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century and (ii) attaining the 50-52% discount in home GHG emissions by 2030 (from 2005 ranges) that’s contained in america’ Nationally Decided Contribution submitted below the Paris Settlement.

Pending Laws & What’s Coming Subsequent

Whereas methane represents solely about 10% of the nation’s whole GHG emissions, methane produces a a lot larger greenhouse impact than carbon dioxide whereas it’s within the ambiance (though it’s way more short-lived than carbon dioxide). Therefore, addressing methane emissions, together with emissions of different potent GHGs like hydrofluorocarbons, performs an essential position within the Biden Administration’s formidable plans to deal with local weather change.

Concentrating on Oil and Gasoline Methane Emissions

On the Plan’s core is a set of proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations focusing on methane emissions from the oil and pure gasoline sector below the Clear Air Act (CAA). The proposed rule contains extra aggressive new supply efficiency requirements (NSPS) for the oil and gasoline business, relevant to new, reconstructed, and modified sources throughout the sector.

Notably, the proposal additionally contains EPA’s first-ever emission pointers for regulating methane emissions from present oil and gasoline services. EPA proposed these emission pointers below Part 111(d) of the CAA. The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari to review the scope of EPA’s authority below this identical provision, albeit within the context of EPA’s efforts to manage CO2 emissions from present fossil-fired energy crops.

In lots of circumstances, the proposed NSPS and emission pointers are based mostly on utility of comparable programs of emission discount. Relying on the kind of tools or emission level, these “best systems of emission reduction” could embrace leak detection and restore at properly websites and compressor stations, altering pneumatic controllers to zero-emissions applied sciences, the routing of related gasoline from oil wells to gross sales strains, or many different measures. The proposed emission pointers and NSPS goal quite a few varieties of tools and emission factors, together with:

  • fugitive emissions from properly websites and compressor stations;

  • storage vessels;

  • pneumatic controllers;

  • properly liquids unloading operations;

  • reciprocating and centrifugal compressors;

  • pneumatic pumps;

  • tools leaks at pure gasoline processing crops;

  • properly completions;

  • oil wells with related gasoline; and

  • sweetening models.

EPA estimates that these initiatives would cut back methane emissions by 41 million tons from 2023 to 2035. Additional, EPA intends to develop a supplemental proposal in 2022 with extra methane and VOC emissions discount measures in response to public suggestions. EPA is particularly calling for info on different sources of air pollution corresponding to deserted or unplugged wells, methods to contain group members in monitoring emissions, new monitoring applied sciences, and strategies for documenting giant emission occasions with business stakeholders.

Different companies will goal methane emissions by separate rulemakings. For instance, the Pipeline and Hazardous Supplies Security Administration (PHMSA) is working to finalize three guidelines over the approaching months that can finally regulate greater than 400,000 additional miles of pipeline: The Gasoline Gathering Pipeline Security Rule would impose new security necessities on beforehand unregulated pipelines; the Computerized Shut-off Valve Rule would require rupture mitigation valves on any new pipelines being constructed; and the Gasoline Transmission Pipelines Security Rule contains quite a lot of elevated security necessities to scale back leaks and ruptures. The Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) will focus its efforts on venting and flaring on federal lands, with plans for a regulation below the Mineral Leasing Act that might require operators to pay royalties for venting and flaring occasions. As well as, BLM and the Bureau of Ocean Power Administration (BOEM) could require stronger monetary assurances for oil and gasoline operators. As soon as the companies publish the proposed guidelines, there can be a chance for public remark.

Lastly, the Administration’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure bundle contains funding to scale back legacy sources of methane emissions. If enacted into regulation, it might allocate $4.7 billion for plugging deserted oil and gasoline wells, and one other $11.3 billion to remediate methane emissions from deserted coal mines. These are all important sources of methane emissions.

Lowering Methane Emissions from Landfills

Municipal stable waste (MSW) landfills are topic to CAA part 111(d) emission pointers requiring states to develop methane controls, and authorizing EPA to step in if states fail to adequately act. In Could 2021, EPA promulgated federal plans with methane limits for the roughly 1,600 existing MSW landfills not lined by state plans.

These present applications can be supplemented by a Landfill Methane Outreach Program that can help landfills, together with smaller landfills not lined by the EPA guidelines, in capturing methane for power tasks. As well as, the Plan contains measures aimed toward lowering meals waste.

Lowering Agricultural Methane Emissions

The Plan contains a number of voluntary measures aimed toward lowering methane emissions from agricultural operations. These are aimed toward creating incentives for methane discount, helping within the seize of methane from manure administration programs for power manufacturing, enhancing measurement of methane emissions from agricultural operations, and selling agriculture-based carbon sequestration. These will doubtless construct on numerous initiatives below means at USDA to incentivize and promote GHG sequestration by agriculture and forestry.

Lowering Industrial Methane Emissions

The Plan contains initiatives to advertise electrification of business processes and different voluntary measures to scale back industrial methane emissions. The Plan additionally contains quite a lot of measures to deal with methane emissions from buildings by lowering pure gasoline leakages, enhancing the effectivity of HVAC programs, and inspiring conversion to non-emitting or low-emitting applied sciences like warmth pumps.

The International Methane Pledge

As a part of its efforts to advertise international commitments to addressing local weather change, the Administration issued an in depth Long-Term Strategy setting forth its plans for attaining net-zero GHG emissions within the U.S. by mid-century. Notably, reductions in methane emissions are a serious constructing block for this plan.

The Administration’s effort to leverage worldwide commitments to methane discount is embodied within the Global Methane Pledge: a pledge to scale back methane emissions 30% by 2030 from 2020 ranges. First announced in September 2021, this joint effort by america and the European Union formally launched in the course of the first week of COP26. Greater than 100 countries have now signed the International Methane Pledge.

The Administration’s Methane Emissions Reduction Motion Plan launches important new regulatory initiatives aimed toward considerably lowering methane emissions, particularly from the oil and gasoline sector. The Plan goals to scale back methane emissions from different sectors of the financial system by a mix of present regulatory initiatives and new voluntary applications aimed toward, for instance, capturing methane for the manufacturing of renewable electrical energy or renewable pure gasoline. These initiatives are more likely to create each substantial regulatory burdens for affected industries together with important new financial alternatives in some sectors.

Co-authored by Mary Crowell

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