Ohio Oil and Gas Industry Leads Efforts to Reduce Methane Emissions
Last week, Energy In Depth released a report showing that methane emissions from oil and natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin, which includes Ohio’s Utica Shale, have fallen in excess of 55 percent from 2011 to 2013. The figures are based on data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
The overwhelming decline in methane emissions in the Appalachian Basin, which includes Ohio’s Utica Shale, is especially striking considering that oil production in Ohio has doubled from 2012 to 2013. In fact, state agency officials have called Ohio’s boom in oil and gas production “staggering.”
Yet, even with this news, environmentalists continue to push Ohio regulators and the U.S. EPA to impose additional and costly regulations on methane. Why would these green groups ask that taxpayers foot the bill for more unnecessary regulations, when the data clearly show methane emissions are already being reduced? For some, it may be hard to believe that the oil and natural gas industry is taking proactive steps, without the overreach of federal bureaucracy, to reduce methane emissions voluntarily. But it is clear that in Ohio and other regions throughout the country, this is exactly what is happening.
For example, the EPA credited the industry for its “voluntary reductions” in methane, specifically through the use of new technologies. As the EPA observed:
“The decrease in production emissions is due to increased voluntary reductions, from activities such as replacing high bleed pneumatic devices, regulatory reductions, and the increased use of plunger lifts for liquids unloading.”
Despite the EPA’s statement above and its own data showing methane emissions on the decline, Ohio put forth its own regulatory reforms on methane emissions in the spring of this year. That resulted in new rules, which modified the permitting process and applies to oil and gas well site production operations. As we can see, the industry was already taking voluntary actions to curb methane emission — but what is noteworthy, as it relates to Ohio specifically, is that the state took it upon itself to get ahead of the curb with regulatory reforms without federal government overarch.
Perhaps someone needs to tell the Clean Air Task Force, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Earthworks and the Natural Resources Defense Council that they should read the regulatory reforms in Ohio’s permitting process. These groups are actually alleging that more federal regulations would be both “common sense and low cost” to taxpayers. But if the industry is already reducing these emissions, then wouldn’t it be better for taxpayers if regulators allowed progress to continue, instead of imposing a solution in search of a problem?
Check out EID’s infographic – Methane Emissions Decline in Top Oil and Gas Basins – to learn more.