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EQT's midstream partners oppose EPA plan to end methane emission limits


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EQT's midstream partners oppose EPA plan to end methane emission limits

Equitrans Midstream Corp. and EQM Midstream Partners LP, midstream operators that handle the bulk of the nation's largest natural gas producer's output, said they oppose the Trump administration's proposed rollback of methane emissions regulations.

In doing so, they broke with oil and gas industry trade groups and joined with the supermajor oil companies.

On Sept. 25, the midstream companies came out in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule that would relax Obama-era methane emissions regulations. The companies, which gather, process and transport the bulk of EQT Corp.'s more than 4 Bcfe/d of natural gas and NGL production, said eliminating the methane emissions limits on upstream and midstream operators were "steps backward."

"Our industry has made great strides during the past decade, with the U.S. EPA's April 2019 inventory report showing total methane emissions are down 15.8% since 1990," Equitrans President and COO Diana Charletta said in a statement. "While this is a good start, we cannot and should not be satisfied with this achievement. We must continue to push our industry forward in a meaningful way in order to effectuate real mitigation of climate change impacts."

While methane lingers for less time in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it has a greenhouse gas effect that is 25 times more potent, according to the EPA. The EPA would like to remove methane emissions from its new source performance standards because it said that limits on volatile organic compounds adequately limit methane, making methane limits redundant and costly.

The American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, two of the leading oil and gas trade groups in the U.S., are in favor of the proposed rule. Supermajors such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC are opposed. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the trade group for the largest U.S. gas pipeline systems, has yet to take a position for or against the new rule.

Supporters of the rule have said oil and gas companies are motivated to keep leakage of their saleable product to a minimum, and that the current monitoring, reporting and repair regime is costly to smaller producers.

Although EQT has had a fairly rigorous methane emissions program for the past several years, which included the operations of its two midstream spinoffs, the now pure gas producer had no immediate comment on Sept. 26, nor has it taken a public position on the proposed new rule.