Voluntary American oil/gas producer program to cut methane emissions ‘inadequate’ say critics

methane emissions

Shell, XTO Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources were three of the 26 companies that signed on to participate in the API methane emissions program. AP photo by Charles Rex Arbogast.

Environmentalists say methane emissions program not strong enough

On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute launched its voluntary program designed to cut methane emissions from oil and gas operations, according to a Reuters report.

Oil majors, including Shell, XTO Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources were among the 26 companies that signed on to the program where drillers say they will cut methane emissions by plugging leaks, reducing venting at aging wells and replacing or retrofitting pneumatic controllers.

The program, which environmentalists said is not strong enough to adequately protect the environment, does not include numerical goals.

“There’s a lot of different ways to look at the data, we could get wrapped around percentages,” Eric Milito, the head of upstream and industry operations at the API, told Reuters about why the program does not set numerical goals.

He said it is a “surgical approach” with industry targeting the top three areas where technology and methods to reduce emissions exist.

In January, the Interior Department adopted rules on methane waste from drillers on public lands.  About 9 per cent of natural gas and 5 per cent of oil was produced on these lands in the last fiscal year.

The Trump administration is working to delay implementation of the regulations, but their efforts were struck down by a federal judge in October.

According to Reuters, the API says most companies will agree to take action on each of the three areas, but only have to agree to reducing emissions in one of the three areas.

In January, the participating companies will implement the agreement and will submit annual reports which will be available to the public.

Environmentalists say the program is moving in the opposite direction of robust and enforceable safeguards.

“Self-policing and voluntary measures continue the status quo: undocumented pollution, problems left unaddressed, and no industry accountability,” Lauren Pagel, a policy director, at Earthworks told Reuters.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the EPA began a voluntary program called One Future where industry would report methane reductions.  However, only about 10 companies out of about 8,000 operating independent producers, signed on.

Reuters says low gas prices made drillers leery of taking on new commitments which could cost them thousands per well.

 

Posted in: USA

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