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AG Nessel Joins Coalition in Support of EPA Proposal to Regulate Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Sector

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition in submitting comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposal (PDF) to strengthen regulation of emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed facilities in the oil and natural gas sector, and to, for the first time, regulate emissions from existing facilities in this sector.  

The EPA estimates that the proposed regulations will reduce emissions of methane by 41 million tons, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 12 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 480,000 tons between 2023 and 2035. 

"It is long overdue for the oil and natural gas sector to responsibly control their emissions. This proposed rule is a central component in the fight against climate change and would protect the public health and welfare," Nessel said. "I urge the EPA to finalize this rule immediately." 

Methane is a super pollutant up to 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere. The production, processing, transmission, and storage of oil and natural gas are the largest single industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S. and the second largest industrial source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions behind only power plants.  

The coalition expresses its strong support for the EPA's proposed rule, and identifies areas where the EPA could build upon the proposal, including, among others: 

  • Requiring regular monitoring and repair of leaks for all well sites regardless of their estimated emissions;    
  • Expressly prohibiting routine flaring, not just venting, from new and existing oil wells with associated gas; 
  • Strengthening the rule to address the excessive environmental burdens imposed on communities located near oil and gas facilities; and 
  • Adopting guidelines that establish uniform federal requirements to minimize or eliminate emissions from abandoned wells. 

Joining Attorney General Nessel in filing these comments are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the City of Chicago.