• Obama to Propose Measures to Limit Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Development
  • April 15, 2015
  • Law Firm: Holland Hart LLP - Denver Office
  • The Obama administration recently outlined a proposal to regulate for the first time methane emissions from new natural gas wells. The regulations may attempt to cut methane emissions up to forty-five percent (45%) by 2025 compared to 2012 levels. The administration is targeting methane on the theory that it is more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The proposed regulations join many others regulatory efforts by the Obama Administration to slow global warming.

    Opposition to these efforts in Congress has only strengthened since last November’s midterm elections. The oil and gas industry points out methane emissions are already declining because gas producers are actively working to reduce methane leakage. For producers, less methane leakage means more methane is available to sell.

    Colorado and Wyoming already have some regulations in place that overlap with the proposal. John Robitaille, vice president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, says Wyoming producers would be largely unaffected by the rule as far as he can tell. “I believe that Wyoming is in the forefront of protecting our air quality and I believe that the EPA is catching up to Wyoming,” he said. Echoing this sentiment, Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance, a trade group representing oil and gas companies, said: “The president’s plan is another case of the administration adding new red tape to make mandatory what industry has been doing voluntarily for several years.”

    The Obama Administration has not yet revealed key details about the proposal, such as how the regulations will affect industry’s bottom line and how deeply they will reduce greenhouse gases. That information will become available once EPA and the Department of the Interior propose formal rules. The agencies will issue these proposed rules later in 2015. After the rulemaking process, the rules could become final in 2016.