On January 14 2015 the White House announced broad plans to reduce methane emissions over the next decade by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels.

Although few details were provided, the plans will involve new regulations by a number of federal agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue new source performance standards under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act for new and modified wells in Summer 2015, and will finalise them in 2016. The EPA's regulations may target completion of hydraulically fractured oil wells, pneumatic pumps and methane leaks from well sites and compressor stations. There are no immediate plans to regulate existing wells under Section 111, but the EPA will also develop new control technique guidelines for states to reduce emissions of volatile organise compounds in areas designated non-attainment for ozone.

The Bureau of Land Management will also issue new methane emission standards for oil and gas wells located on public land. In addition, the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will develop new safety standards for natural gas pipelines that are expected to reduce methane emissions from the midstream sector. Finally, the Department of Energy will issue energy efficiency standards for natural gas and air compressors.

The new regulations will be proposed later this year and are expected to be finalised in 2016.

For further information on this topic please contact Roger Martella, Samuel Boxerman, Joel Visser or Jim Wedeking at Sidley Austin LLP by telephone (+1 202 736 8000), fax (+1 202 736 8711) or email (rmartella@sidley.com, sboxerman@sidley.com, jvisser@sidley.com, or jwedeking@sidley.com). The Sidley Austin LLP website can be accessed at www.sidley.com.

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