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EPA Holds Hearing On Methane Proposal, As Industry Touts ‘Innovation’

November 29, 2021

EPA is holding public hearings on its high-profile proposal to strengthen methane rules for new and existing oil and gas equipment, while a major industry trade association is touting efforts by the oil and gas sector to advance “innovation” in methane detection and abatement.

Methane Hearings

EPA is holding virtual public hearings Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 on its proposal to strengthen oil and gas methane standards for new equipment and impose first-time standards for existing operations.

The sessions will provide the first formal opportunity for outside groups to weigh in on the plan, though EPA is also accepting written comments on the proposed rule until Jan. 14.

EPA’s proposed oil and gas rule, announced Nov. 2 during the Glasgow climate talks, includes both new and expanded emissions standards for new facilities, as well as first-time guidelines for states to implement methane curbs at existing operations.

The proposal also tees up numerous questions intended to inform a supplemental proposal scheduled to be released next year, with the agency aiming to finalize its methane regulation by the end of 2022.

Broadly, EPA projects its proposal could reduce overall covered emissions by roughly 75 percent, with the rule serving as the most high-profile element of an inter-agency “action plan” the Biden administration developed to curb methane from multiple sectors.

Background Reading: EPA Touts Supplemental Methane Plan As Chance For Tighter Controls

Industry Reaction

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is holding a Dec. 2 webinar to discuss efforts to limit methane emissions “while also balancing policies to support domestic energy supply in order to maintain reliability and affordability for consumers.” The trade association adds that the oil and gas sector “has been driving innovations in methane detection and abatement, creating cleaner energy alternatives both here in the U.S. and abroad.”

The event will cover federal policy issues as well as “operational progress being made to reduce methane emissions.” Scheduled speakers include EPA air policy officials Joe Goffman and Tomas Carbonell.

Hydrogen Policy

Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy is hosting a Nov. 30 webinar to discuss the role of hydrogen in a transition to low-carbon energy. The event will discuss why hydrogen can present a “profound business, social, and health opportunity (and how green hydrogen may be cheaper than many fossil fuels within five years).”

The Atlantic Council is also holding a Dec. 2 event to examine the role of hydrogen in the energy transition.

Offshore Wind

Resources for the Future is holding a Dec. 2-3 workshop to address key policy, market and finance issues that will affect the offshore wind industry in the U.S. The event comes as the Biden administration is seeking to usher in a boom in offshore wind power, with officials most recently designating an area off the coast of central California for development.

Background Reading: BOEM Officially Designates California’s Morro Bay Area For Offshore Wind

Utilities’ GHGs

The U.S. Energy Association (USEA) is hosting a Nov. 29 event to discuss whether the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit was a “building block or stumbling block” for utilities. The event will tackle questions such as whether the summit gave utilities a “framework they need to continue their decarbonization efforts,” or whether it “emboldened the opponents of utilities moving to renewables and other green power sources.”

Carbon Products

USEA is also hosting a Dec. 2 event, which was postponed last week, to discuss a new report from the National Coal Council, an advisory group for the Energy Department, about how “coal-derived carbon products” can support various Biden administration economic and environmental priorities.

Background Reading: DOE To Revamp Coal Panel, Citing Legislation And Need To ‘Modernize’

GOP Perspective

Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), who is chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus, is scheduled to speak at a Nov. 30 event hosted by the Hudson Institute on the future of U.S. climate policy. The group notes that “finding the correct balance of innovation, regulation and technology to achieve further reductions remains the subject of vigorous debate,” and that Curtis will express his thoughts on how the U.S. should tackle climate change both domestically and abroad.

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