Tougher Pipeline Regulations Approved in California

The California Air Resources Board has approved a new regulation aimed at curbing methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The new regulation is expected to reduce methane leaks from oil and gas operations in California by the equivalent of 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and requires quarterly monitoring of methane emissions from oil and gas wells, natural gas processing facilities, compressor stations and other equipment used in the processing and delivery of oil and natural gas. Some equipment will also be required to add vapor collection systems.

The new regulation adds to emergency regulations that were put in place by the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources after the methane leak in the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. Those regulations require additional monitoring and testing at all underground natural gas storage facilities, making it easier to prevent well leaks.

“This new tool to curb methane emissions complements the rigorous safety and inspection requirements now in place at all gas storage fields in California,” said David Bunn, director of the Department of Conservation. “Not only is California working to prevent another major methane leak like the one at Aliso Canyon, it’s important that we also reduce the cumulative impacts of smaller leaks.”

Although the largest source of methane in California is livestock, the oil and gas industry is responsible for about 15 percent of the state’s methane emissions.

Adoption of this oil and gas rule is a step toward implementing the state’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, which provides guidance for development and implementation of California’s overall effort to reduce highly potent climate pollutants. SB 1383 sets the target for statewide methane reductions of 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

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