The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a proposed rule under the Clean Act intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants from crude oil and natural gas operations (production, processing, transmission, and storage segments).

The EPA seeks to do this through three avenues. First, the EPA seeks to revise new source performance standards (NSPS) for GHGs and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to correspond with its most recent review of the feasibility and cost of reducing emissions from oil and natural gas operations. These would apply to construction, modification or reconstruction commencing after November 15, 2021, and would include standards for emission sources previously not regulated. Second, the EPA proposes emissions guidelines for states to follow in developing, submitting, and implementing state plans to establish performance standards to limit GHGs from existing sources (designated facilities). Third, the EPA is taking various actions in response to the joint resolution of Congress disapproving the EPA's final rule, “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review,” September 14, 2020, including but not limited to fugitive emissions monitoring at low-production well sites and gathering and boosting stations.

The EPA is requesting comments concerning the proposed rule through January 14, 2022 to assist in developing a final rule that “achieves the greatest possible reductions in methane and VOC emissions while remaining achievable, cost effective, and conducive to technological innovation.”