Oil Heavyweights Challenge Biden Methane Rule in Bid for Changes

May 8, 2024

Originally written by Jennifer A. Dlouhy.  Published by Bloomberg News.

(Bloomberg) — The oil industry’s top trade group filed a petition in federal court challenging Biden administration mandates cracking down on planet-warming methane emissions from wells, tanks and pipelines, even as it pushes the government to make administrative changes.

The American Petroleum Institute lodged its petition for review with a Washington-based federal appeals court on Tuesday, the day before a 60-day deadline for challenging Clean Air Act regulations.

The action preserves API’s legal options and leaves the door open for the group to fully litigate the matter later. In the meantime, it is focused on pursuing administrative changes with the Environmental Protection Agency, said Dustin Meyer, the institute’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs.

“API is continuing to work with EPA to advance a final methane rule that builds on the industry’s emissions reduction progress, but we remain concerned with some technical provisions and implementation hurdles in the final rule,” Meyer said. “Today’s filing will help ensure reasonable changes can be made and American energy producers can continue to meet growing demand for affordable, reliable energy with fewer emissions.”

Representatives of the EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The regulation at issue — developed over three years — is aimed at stifling emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere during the first two decades after its release.

The rule has sweeping reach — setting requirements for monitoring, repairing and replacing equipment at storage tanks, compressors, pneumatic pumps and other equipment used at oil and gas wells nationwide. It also for the first time empowers private citizens to essentially police oil wells and pipelines for methane leaks — a change meant to ensure companies take swift action to investigate and stem potential emissions reported by third parties.

The API is asking the EPA to issue guidance or write new rules creating exemptions for equipment used only temporarily at sites. The group also is requesting that the administration provide a clearer path for approving new leak detection equipment in the future, going beyond the optical gas imaging cameras now widely used to pinpoint possible emissions.

Another oil industry focus has been clarifying the scope of the rule’s requirements for storage vessels, amid concern that making changes to any one tank could trigger mandates for a whole battery of them.