Big news this week about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed regulations to limit emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and gas drilling, operating, compression and processing facilities. EPA’s proposed new rules can be viewed here. Among other things, the proposed regs would require operators to use “green completion” technology in drilling and completing wells, to reduce emissions of natural gas during those operations. The proposed rules would apply only to “new sources” of emissions, not existing facilities.
Representative Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, called the proposed rules “yet another example of the Obama administration’s war on American energy jobs.” Barry Russell, CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the proposed rules would cause “unnecessary costs and added uncertainty” that would “inflict more pain on the men and women who work in the oil and gas industry at a time when market forces are already creating economic challenges.” Environmentalists praised the proposed regulations, but said that EPA needs to begin regulating emissions from existing facilities.
VOCs are carbon-based molecules that evaporate at ordinary temperatures and pressures, and are emitted into the air during oil and gas production, gathering, transportation and processing activities. They include benzene, ethylbenzene, and n-hexane, which are harmful to human health. VOCs and methane are also powerful greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming according to scientific consensus.