EPA's New Emission Standards For Oil & Gas

This is a cunning plan that might actually work.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed standards to reduce harmful air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. These standards would leverage operators' ability to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes into the air. 

Makes sense at first glance.  I'm not an oil man, or a gas man for that matter, but occasionally I can identify a common sense solution that is a win for everyone.

It's alright now...  EPA says the new measure would result in more efficient operations while reducing harmful emissions that can impact air quality in surrounding areas and neighboring states.  The proposal would cut smog-forming volatile organic compound  known as VOC emissions from several types of processes and equipment used in the oil and gas industry.

The cuts include an estimated 95% reduction in VOCs emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells.

In fact it's a gas...  Natural gas production in the U.S. is growing, with more than 25,000 new and existing wells fractured or re-fractured each year. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas - more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

EPA’s proposed changes here also aspire to reduce cancer risks from emissions of several air toxics, including benzene.  It's hard to see why that wouldn't work. 

EPA’s analysis of the proposed changes, which also include requirements for storage tanks and other equipment, show they are highly cost-effective, with a net savings to the industry of tens of millions of dollars annually from the value of natural gas that would no longer escape to the air. Today’s proposal includes reviews of four air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry as required by the Clean Air Act: a new source performance standard for VOCs from equipment leaks at gas processing plants; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide emissions from gas processing plants; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.

EPA is under a consent decree requiring the agency to sign a proposal by July 28, 2011 and take final action by Feb. 28, 2012. As part of the public comment period, EPA will hold three public hearings near:
  1. Dallas
  2. Denver
  3. Pittsburgh
Details on the hearings will be announced soon. We'll post a Jumping Jack Newsflash when that happens.

For more: http://epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/