Tuesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public review five technical papers on the sources of methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the oil and natural gas industry.

The papers are on the topics of:

The papers do not reach conclusions on reducing emissions but rather summarize research to date and outline EPA’s understanding of the various issues involved. Each of the papers contains "charge questions for reviewers" that ask commenters to evaluate the information and provide additional data and resources.

The papers and the input received on them will be used in the Obama administration's Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, which was unveiled last month (see Daily GPI, March 28). Comments may be submitted to oilandgas.whitepapers@epa.gov by June 10. EPA, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and a combination of the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy will be using the papers as a basis for updating or developing new standards.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) praised the administration's efforts Tuesday.

"The release of these EPA white papers is another important step in the Obama Administration's road map to address methane pollution. The case for action is strong and we're confident it will prove out in the end," said Peter Zalzal, EDF staff attorney. "Recent economic assessments point out that there are readily-available, cost-effective technologies to minimize methane emissions today, and leading states have already deployed many of these important solutions."

In March EDF released an analysis prepared by independent consulting firm ICF International that examined opportunities to reduce methane across the oil and gas industry. The report found that 40% of onshore oil and gas methane emissions could be reduced in 2018 by deploying proven, cost-effective technologies (see Daily GPI, March 3).