Sen. Manchin voices concern over proposed methane rules, asks EPA to reconsider

© Shutterstock

In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, voiced his trepidation over proposed rules that would increase methane regulations.

Manchin wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan that he had “serious concerns” with the proposed regulation and the impact it would have on oil and gas facilities, as well as the impact of part of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).

“The current Administration has made its intentions clear: it is determined to target our flourishing oil and gas sector, despite its substantial progress in reducing methane emissions, irrespective of how it might impact American energy security, reliability, and consumer cost,” Machin wrote. “This has put pressure on EPA to hastily finalize and implement these extensive new regulations, leading to proposals that lack thorough consideration and alignment. This lack of alignment unjustly burdens industry while simultaneously hindering EPA’s ability to achieve its own stated emissions reduction objectives.”

Manchin said a proposed methane rule would require upgrades to critical field equipment to address leas from new wells, storage tanks and other essential equipment. If finalized, he wrote, businesses would only be given 60 days to upgrade devices like pneumatic controllers.

“This timeline is grossly inadequate and fails to acknowledge the extensive scale of the required upgrades,” Manchin wrote. “Given the ongoing supply chain disruptions in the oil and gas industry, which are partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, significant delays have arisen in acquiring vital equipment like pneumatics, control devices, storage vessels, associated gas equipment, and fugitive emissions components. These delays span from six to 24 months, presenting insurmountable obstacles to meeting EPA’s proposed regulation.”

Manchin also took issue with the agency’s proposed Super Emitter Program (SERP) which allowed third parties to report super emitting events without any training or licensure. Lastly, the Senator said the agency’s changes in Subpart W of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program that did not reconcile with the Inflation Reduction Act requirements. While the IRA provides directives to enhance accurate emission assessment for the Methane Waste Emissions Charge, the agency’s proposed revision would put constraints on the use of advanced emissions measurement methods.

The senator asked the agency to respond to his concerns but did not give a date for response.