MANSFIELD — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday a new, updated rule that aims to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas industry.
Councilman Don Bryant said although he supports the rule, Mansfield companies have little to worry about — at least for now.
“The new rules do not apply to older companies in the area that may be emitting methane gas,” he said.
The final regulations, which were first passed in August last year, are the EPA’s effort to line up with President Barack Obama’s goal to cut 45 percent of methane emissions in the oil and gas industry according to levels in 2012 by 2025.
The rules announced Thursday only apply to companies building new facilities or making modifications to existing facilities. However, companies that have modified their buildings since last August will be mandated to comply.
According to the EPA, methane, the key constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. Methane is the second most prevalent GHG emitted in the United States from human activities, and nearly one-third of those emissions comes from oil production and the transmission, production and distribution of natural gas.
The rule includes facilities and equipment that emit volatile organic compounds, which, according to the EPA, are harmful for human health and the environment.
Bryant said he is working on a measure that will swing the gate wide for older facilities to be included in the EPA’s rule.
“Right now, the rules are voluntary. We do have companies that try to reduce their carbon and methane emissions but it’s all on a voluntary basis. We need a uniform standard,” Bryant said.
According to Joe Holcomb of United Steelworkers, there is a cost to complying with the new EPA rule, but it isn’t much.
“It will cost one cent for every 1000 cubic feet of methane emitted,” he said during a teleconference call hosted by the Ohio Environmental Council.
Ohio organizer of Moms Clean Air Force Laura Burns said the regulations would actually increase a business’ bottom line and it will benefit Ohio’s economy in the long-run because people will be hired to enforce the rule.
“Once the methane gas that’s leaking is not leaking anymore, that gas can be used more effectively,” Burns said.
Melanie Houston, of the Ohio Environmental Council, said Ohio oil and gas companies emitted 22,000 tons methane gas in 2014, which amounts to nearly $4 million in wasted revenue. That amount of methane could have met the annual cooking and heating needs of 1,300 homes across Ohio, she said.