Oil & Gas

09 Mar 2024

Texas Challenges US EPA Limits on Oil and Gas Industry Methane Emissions

09 Mar 2024  by reuters   

A smoke stack at the Valero refinery by the Houston Ship Channel is seen in Houston, Texas, U.S., May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Texas sued the U.S. government over Environmental Protection Agency rules published on Friday, that crack down on the oil and gas industry's releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenges EPA rules first announced last year that seek to reduce methane emissions through measures like bans on routine flaring of natural gas produced at new oil wells.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said the rules amount to regulatory overreach by the EPA, and usurp the role of states in establishing emission standards.

"The EPA is once again trying to seize regulatory authority that Congress has not granted,” Paxton said in a statement.

The EPA declined to comment.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that can leak into the atmosphere undetected from drill sites, gas pipelines and other oil and gas equipment. It has more warming potential than carbon dioxide and breaks down in the atmosphere faster, so reining in methane emissions can have a more immediate impact on limiting climate change.

The new rules ban routine flaring, require oil companies to monitor for leaks from well sites and compressor stations and establish a program to use third-party remote sensing to detect large methane releases from so-called "super emitters," the EPA said in a statement when it announced the rules.

The rules would prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane from reaching the atmosphere between 2024 and 2038 - nearly the equivalent of all the carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector in the year 2021, according to the EPA.

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