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

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a multistate coalition, led by California and New York, in submitting comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental proposal 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 methane emissions from existing facilities, which comprise the majority of the emissions in this sector. The EPA estimates that the proposed supplemental proposal will reduce emissions of methane by 36 million tons, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 9.7 million tons, and hazardous air pollutants by 390,000 tons between 2023 and 2035. In their comments, the coalition supports EPA’s supplemental proposal, which updates, strengthens, and expands standards proposed in November 2021, and the coalition identifies additional ways to further strengthen the supplemental proposal.

“The oil and natural gas sector is this country’s largest industrial emitter of methane,” said Nessel. “Responding to greenhouse gas emissions in a meaningful way, particularly methane emissions, is essential if we’re going to address climate change and protect the health of our communities. I stand with my colleagues in supporting EPA’s proposal to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector."

Methane is a super pollutant that is up to 83 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. For nearly a decade, states have urged the EPA to regulate methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector as a central component in the fight against climate change.

In their comments, the coalition expresses strong support for EPA's supplemental proposal, which addresses several issues that were raised by the coalition’s comments on EPA’s 2021 proposal, and argues that certain elements of the supplemental proposal should be strengthened, including by:

 

  • Requiring a shorter repair period for methane leaks if the well site is located in proximity to an already overburdened community;
  • Adding restrictions on the amount of time that operators are allowed to idle wells and limiting the number of idle wells that an individual owner can hold;
  • Prohibiting routine flaring with an exception only for safety and emergencies;
  • Lowering the threshold for defining super-emitter emission events; and
  • Designing the super-emitter response program to maximize community participation. 

In filing the comments, AG Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the City of Chicago.

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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