In a bid to reduce pollution and address climate change, the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has proposed its first regulations to clamp down on methane leaks from pipelines.
The proposal will cover the 2.7 million miles of transmission, distribution, and other pipelines under the agency’s jurisdiction, as well as underground natural gas storage facilities and liquefied natural gas facilities. It updates leak detection and repair rules and requires companies to use commercially available technologies to find and fix methane leaks from pipelines and other facilities. It is projected that the proposal will lead to a reduction of pipeline emissions by as much as 55% by the year 2030.
Environmental groups have hailed the proposal as a “welcome step” in addressing climate change, with some calling it a “modernization of regulations.” The proposal was also welcomed by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), which noted that the rules were ordered by Congress. However, the American Petroleum Institute (API), while saying that the industry was already reducing methane emissions, said it was reviewing the rule.
Methane is a greenhouse gas about 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year time scale, and the oil and gas sector is considered the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around one-third of the oil and gas industry’s emissions come from transmission, storage, processing, and distribution, all of which are subject to PHMSA regulation.
PHMSA officials believe that the proposal would help to reduce methane leaks from pipelines, increase public safety, and ensure the US remains the global leader in methane mitigation. The proposed pipeline regulation is a response to the bipartisan PIPES Act of 2020, which included regulatory mandates to address pipeline safety, including methane leaks.
Source: Climate & Clean Air Coalition