EPA Issues Final Rule to Cut Methane Emissions and Improve Greenhouse Gas Reporting

May 8, 2024
Revisions to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program will bring greater transparency and accountability for methane emissions from oil and natural gas facilities, one of the major drivers of climate change.

On May 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to strengthen, expand and update methane emissions reporting requirements for petroleum and natural gas systems under the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP), as required by the Inflation Reduction Act. According to the EPA, the final revisions will ensure greater transparency and accountability for methane pollution from oil and natural gas facilities by improving the accuracy of annual emissions reporting from these operations. 

The GHGRP requires reporting of greenhouse gas data and other relevant information from large GHG emission sources, fuel and industrial gas suppliers, and CO2 injection sites in the United States. Approximately 8,000 facilities are required to report their emissions annually, and the reported data are made available to the public in October of each year.

The final rule is a key component of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, as designed by Congress to help states, industry and communities implement recently finalized Clean Air Act methane standards and slash methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The Biden-Harris Administration is also mobilizing over $1 billion in financial and technical assistance to accelerate the transition to no- and low-emitting oil and gas technologies, as part of broad efforts to cut methane emissions.

The EPA stated in its press release that recent studies reveal that actual emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems are much greater than what has historically been reported to the GHGRP. This rule addresses that gap by facilitating the use of satellite data to identify super-emitters and quantify large emission events, requiring direct monitoring of key emission sources, and updating the methods for calculation. Together these changes support complete and accurate reporting and respond to Congress’s directive for the measurement of methane emissions to rely on empirical data. 

The final rule is designed to enhance the quality of emissions data reported from oil and natural gas operations, with provisions that improve the quantification of methane emissions, incorporate advances in methane emissions measurement technology, and streamline compliance with other EPA regulations. 

As part of these efforts, the final rule includes for the first time, the use of advanced technologies such as satellites to help quantify emissions. Advanced measurement technologies, and their use for annual quantification of emissions, are evolving rapidly. The EPA says it’s committed to transparent and continual improvements to its programs to account for these advancements while ensuring reporting is accurate and complete. 

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