EPA to set first rule to cut methane from oil, gas sector

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil on Thursday a rule to target methane emissions from new or modified oil and gas facilities, the first regulations to tackle the greenhouse gas from the sector, two sources briefed on the matter said.

The EPA first proposed the regulation last August and finalized the measure after a public comment period.

The proposal is expected to require new and modified oil and gas processing and transmission facilities to find and repair methane leaks, capture natural gas from hydraulically fractured oil wells and limit emissions from pumps and other types of equipment.

It will help achieve a broader Obama administration strategy to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, the EPA said, and forms a key part of its climate change strategy.

Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Though it only lasts in the atmosphere for 20 years, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, and environmental groups have pressed the administration for tighter restrictions leaks.

Cutting methane will also help the United States achieve the goal it pledged in the Paris climate change agreement to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In January, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management proposed rules to limit venting and flaring natural gas at wells on public land, practices that let methane into the atmosphere.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler