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EPA Seeking Input on Oil, NatGas Emissions Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses, governments and not-for-profit organizations to provide advice and recommendations about the potential impacts of upcoming standards for emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from sources in the oil and natural gas sector.

EPA is seeking self-nominations from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements to serve as Small Entity Representatives for a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs, the agency said.

Representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Office of Management and Budget and EPA are also expected to sit on the SBAR panel.

The panel is to focus on EPA's development of a rule that proposes to reduce GHG emissions, including methane, and VOCs under the agency's New Source Performance Standards for the oil and natural gas industry. Self-nominations should be submitted on the EPA website by Feb. 11.

The Obama administration on Jan. 14 issued a broad spectrum plan for the industry to cut methane emissions from new and modified sources by 40-45% below 2012 levels by 2025 (see Daily GPIJan. 14). The main regulatory proposals are expected to come from EPA this summer, followed by final regulations in 2016.

The EPA issued standards for VOCs from the oil and gas industry in 2012 (see Daily GPIApril 19, 2012). At the time, the EPA said it wanted to give the industry more time to meet the new requirements; the agency set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2015 -- for wells drilled after Aug. 23, 2011 -- to slash VOCs using a two-step process requiring flaring followed by "green completion" equipment to capture and sell the emissions.

The EPA said recently its VOC standards, once fully implemented, would reduce 190,000-290,000 tons of VOC, and methane emissions would decrease by an amount equivalent to 33 million tons of carbon pollution per year.

Last April, the EPA released five technical papers on methane and VOC emissions from the oil and gas industry (see Daily GPIApril 15, 2014). The papers summarized the agency's research to date on compressor stations; completions and production from hydraulically fractured wells; leaks; liquid unloading, and pneumatic devices. EPA used the papers, along with the input received from the peer reviewers and the public, to identify potential common sense, cost-effective approaches to achieve emission reduction from these sources," the agency said.

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