EPA rolls out methane emissions rules against oil and gas industry


Even as a House Committee held a hearing this week into the EPA’s latest rule regarding chemical firms, the giant agency spread its influence with updated methane emissions reporting requirements for oil and gas operations.

In Monday’s announcement, the agency asserted the final revisions will ensure grater transparency and accountability for methane pollution from oil and natural gas facilities by improving the accuracy of annual emissions reporting from the operations.

“Oil and natural gas facilities are the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, a climate “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today,” claimed the agency in the announcement.

EPA’s latest action complements the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government initiative to slash methane emissions from every sector of the economy under the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Plan. In 2023 alone, the Administration took nearly 100 actions, with coordination by the White House Methane Task Force, to bolster methane detection and reduce methane pollution from oil and gas operations, landfills, abandoned mines, agriculture, industry, and buildings.

The final rule updating the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is a key component of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Methane Emissions Reduction Program, as designed by Congress to help states, industry, and communities implement recently finalized Clean Air Act methane standards and slash methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The Biden-Harris Administration is also mobilizing over $1 billion in financial and technical assistance to accelerate the transition to no- and low- emitting oil and gas technologies, as part of broad efforts to cut wasteful methane emissions.

“As we implement the historic climate programs under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, EPA is applying the latest tools, cutting edge technology, and expertise to track and measure methane emissions from the oil and gas industry,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Together, a combination of strong standards, good monitoring and reporting, and historic investments to cut methane pollution will ensure the U.S. leads in the global transition to a clean energy economy.”

Recent studies reveal that actual emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems are much greater than what has historically been reported to the GHGRP. This rule addresses that gap, including by facilitating the use of satellite data to identify super-emitters and quantify large emission events, requiring direct monitoring of key emission sources, and updating the methods for calculation. Together these changes support complete and accurate reporting and respond to Congress’s directive for the measurement of methane emissions to rely on empirical data.

Monday’s announcement is EPA’s latest step in tackling methane emissions that are fueling climate change, building on the agency’s recently finalized Clean Air Act standards to sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry, promote the use of cutting-edge methane detection technologies, and deliver significant economic and public health benefits from methane emissions reductions. That rule established a Super-Emitter Program to help detect large leaks and releases, and today’s reporting rule will require owners and operators to quantify and report the emissions detected through that Program to help close the gap between observed methane emissions and reported emissions.