August 18, 2015 / 4:16 PM / in 5 years

U.S. EPA proposes methane emission standards for oil and gas industry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed new standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions and volatile organic compounds from oil and gas facilities, a key part of a broader strategy to cut methane emissions in the sector by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels in the next ten years.

The proposed methane standards are expected to reduce the equivalent of 7.7 mln to 9 mln metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2025, according to the EPA.

The proposal will require oil and gas processing and transmission facilities to find and repair methane leaks, capture natural gas from hydraulically fractured oil wells and limit emissions from pumps and other types of equipment.

The proposed rule will help achieve a broader Obama administration strategy to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, the EPA said, and forms a key part of its climate change strategy.

The release of the proposed standards comes about two weeks after the EPA unveiled the final version of its Clean Power Plan, a sweeping rule that aims to cut national carbon emissions from the power sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 through tailored state targets.

“Through our cost-effective proposed standards, we are underscoring our commitment to reducing the pollution fueling climate change and protecting public health while supporting responsible energy development, transparency and accountability,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

The proposed standards build on a voluntary EPA program that enables oil and gas companies to pledge commitments to lower their methane emissions.

Environmental groups have complained that those voluntary measures fail to address the projected growth in methane emissions of more than 25 percent by 2025.

Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Lambert

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