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EPA: Oil, gas methane rules will be 'strong, enforceable, cost-effective'

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EPA: Oil, gas methane rules will be 'strong, enforceable, cost-effective'

The U.S. EPA is working toward a legally unassailableframework for regulating oil and gas industry methane emissions from sources, AdministratorGina McCarthy said March 30.

The agency's industry emissions information collectionrequest — announced earlier this month — is a material step forward in thatprocess, McCarthy told attendees at the Global Methane Forum in Washington,D.C.

"While it may seem boring, it is the linchpin of how wecan move forward to capture our methane more effectively and reduce pollutionthat is generating instability in our climate," McCarthy said. "It is… an opportunity for us to require the sector … [to] provide us the data thatwe need to underpin a strong and legally binding rule."

The information collection request would inform upcomingregulations for methane emissions from the hundreds of thousands of existingoil and gas methane sources. The EPA said it would begin the informationcollection request stage in April and hopes to move quickly through theinformation gathering process in the following months.

The administration will focus on better understanding wherethe existing sourcesof methane emission are, what kinds of technologies are available to cut thoseemissions, and how much those technologies cost.

"That will help us to continue to drive actions movingforward that will allow us to have … strong, enforceable, cost-effective andachievable standards," McCarthy said.

In the meantime, the EPA is also still pushing itsvoluntary methanechallenge programthat recognizes oil and gas companies for curbing their methane emissions. Theadministration officially launched the program March 30, highlighting 41companies as the founding partners, including a host of gas utilities.

The EPA in August 2015 also New Source PerformanceStandards to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, focusing onhydraulically fractured wells but also including equipment downstream from thewellhead.