American Petroleum Institute Wants Recognition for Methane Reductions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The American Petroleum Institute lobby group is seeking recognition of reductions in methane emissions by oil and gas producers as the Biden administration moves to regulate the greenhouse gas, the group's chief said on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden's Environmental Protection Agency in November launched a proposal on methane emissions from oil and gas operations and other sources. For the first time, it requires oil and gas operators to aggressively detect and repair methane leaks. The operations account for a third of methane emissions.

At the time, the API said it supported direct regulation from new and existing sources, a change of position from the group that had long opposed mandatory curbs.

Mike Sommers, API's president and chief executive, said the group is sharing industry knowledge and experience with EPA to inform its rule making. The comments to the EPA "will include suggestions to further enhance the flexibility of the proposed monitoring framework so that producers have the ability to implement new and more effective monitoring technologies," Sommers told reporters after API's annual event on the state of the industry.

The group wants regulators to acknowledge steps the industry has taken to reduce leaks of the gas, he said. He did not provide details on how that work could be recognized.

The API has criticized steps the Biden administration has taken as part of its program to curb climate change, including axing the Keystone XL pipeline and cutting drilling access to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying the steps could harm the economy. Sommers said working with EPA on methane is a way of cooperating with the administration on curbing climate change risks "over time."

While API says it supports methane regulations, it opposes efforts to place a fee on emissions of the gas. The API has concerns about a methane emissions fee included in House-passed Build Back Better legislation that is at the heart of Biden's economic plan, Sommers said during the API event that attempted to illustrate the industry's diversity and concern for the environment,

The bill is stalled due to opposition from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

The lobby group supports the bill's boosting of credits, known as 45Q, for industries to capture carbon emissions before they reach the atmosphere. 

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