EPA recently posted a March 19, 2013 petition for rulemaking by environmental groups seeking to amend the regulations governing the Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems source category (Subpart W) of EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule (Mandatory Reporting Rule), 40 C.F.R. § 98.230 et seq. The petition seeks three changes to these regulations.
First, the petition seeks to “expand the scope” of greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting obligations to include wells that co-produce oil and natural gas. The regulations set forth GHG reporting obligations that are applicable to certain “gas wells” but not to “oil wells,” including oil wells that co-produce natural gas. The environmental groups oppose this distinction and seek GHG reporting requirements for wells co-producing oil and gas.
Second, the petition seeks to revoke the exclusion of gathering and boosting facilities from coverage under the natural gas processing segment and the natural gas transmission compression segment under Subpart W of the Mandatory Reporting Rule.
Third, the petition seeks to eliminate, by the end of the year, the option to use best available monitoring methods (“BAMM”) in lieu of the methods otherwise required under Subpart W. The petition contends that facilities should be encouraged to adopt “real-time continuous monitoring techniques” in the near-term and asserts that EPA should establish a mechanism for considering requests to use such methods in lieu of those otherwise required under Subpart W.
The petition was filed pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 553(e), which grants the right for any interested person to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule. EPA’s website states that “[a]ny regulatory action that follows as a result of a petition for rulemaking would still be shaped by the typical outreach used by the agency to gather stakeholder input, and is still subject to any applicable notice and comment requirements.” http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/petitions-office-air-and-radiation
It is not clear at this time how the EPA will respond to the petition, however, if granted, the burdens under the EPA’s greenhouse gas monitoring rules will increase for the oil and gas industry.