DEP must act fast on new methane rules

John Walliser, Senior VP for Legal & Government Affairs

Over the past weekend at the international energy and climate gathering COP28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a final rule to address methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. This rule, developed after public and industry engagement, is essential for the industry to meet its responsibilities to meaningfully reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that, in the short term, is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The final rule by EPA has important safeguards, requiring comprehensive leak monitoring and ensuring that all well sites are subject to regular inspection and improved performance standards for on-site equipment. It also includes provisions for better addressing what are known as “super emitter” events.

These critical and common-sense provisions, which prevent resource waste and help reduce the release of other hazardous air emissions, will require all states to tackle this significant problem. This is of particular importance in Pennsylvania, which is one the largest producers of natural gas and home to an extraordinary number of older and less managed wells.

Implementation of the rule in Pennsylvania is the responsibility of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which will have to promulgate its own rulemaking. Recognizing the importance and extent of methane pollution, Governor Shapiro has rightly pledged to make this a priority for the Commonwealth. PEC will be actively engaged in this process in 2024.