FERC Gas-Electric Information Sharing Order Draws Complaints

February 2014, Vol. 69 No. 2

After the regulation was proposed in June 2013, the NGSA expressed concern that the new regulations would allow transmission operators to share commercially sensitive information that could harm producers and marketers by revealing their positions in the market to outside parties. NGSA’s concerns were not alleviated by the final rule which was identical to the proposed version issued last June.

Environmental Group Presses For Pipeline Methane Emission Controls

A leading environmental group wants the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate methane leaks from gas pipeline pneumatic controllers and compressors. The EPA New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the oil and gas industry issued in June 2012 apply mostly to oil and gas production facilities. These standards target volatile organics emissions, but they do result in some methane emission reductions, almost exclusively in upstream production and processing.

"While they are a good first step in the right direction, they leave significantly more work to be done regarding methane," states Vignesh Gowrishankar, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The standards require the use of green completions by 2015 and flaring of emissions in the interim.

"But these standards cover only new or modified equipment in limited parts of the supply chain," adds Gowrishankar. "They do not cover most leaking equipment further downstream from where natural gas is produced and processed, such as in the storage, long-distance transportation and local distribution portions of the natural gas supply chain." He explains that the 2012 standard will reduce approximately 10-15 percent of the industry’s total annual emissions.

Gowrishankar adds that the NRDC has been talking with other major environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Clean Air Task Force about ways in which to press the EPA on methane emissions.

But it doesn't appear that the EPA has any plans to institute new methane emissions rulemaking, much less one devoted to gas pipelines. Sarah Dunham, director, Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA, states, "The EPA is currently working with other agencies to assess emissions data, address data gaps, and identify opportunities to further reduce methane emissions through incentive-based programs and existing authorities."