US Natural Gas Groups Oppose Federal Plan to Eliminate Methane Leaks

(Reuters) — U.S. natural gas trade groups on Wednesday opposed federal pipeline regulators' proposed methane leak detection rules to address the climate-change crisis.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) rolled out the gas pipeline leak detection and repair proposal in May, to reduce emissions from over 2.7 million miles of gas transmission systems as well storage facilities.

The gas associations said extensive changes needed to be made to PHMSA’s proposal for it to be technically and economically feasible.

"Pipeline operators are working every day to improve safety and environmental performance, but this proposed rule would do little to accomplish PHMSA’s stated goals," said Robin Rorick, the American Petroleum Institute's (API) vice president of midstream policy.

The groups opposing the proposal, of which API is one, said PHMSA should provide a three-year effective date for the final rule and not the proposed six months.

They also flagged the plan to eliminate "all detectable leaks, including those so inconsequential that they pose no potential hazard to public safety".

The PHMSA proposal was drafted to support President Joe Biden's methane emissions reduction action plan.

The Biden administration intends to toughen the crackdown on oil and gas industry methane leaks as part of a "relentless focus" on preventing planet-warming emissions. It aims to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050.

The pushback from the gas associations comes when the U.S. is battling its deadliest wildfires in Hawaii, which have killed at least 110 people.

The situation in Hawaii recalled scenes of devastation elsewhere in the world this summer, as wildfires caused by record-setting heat forced the evacuation of tens of thousands in Greece, Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe. Canada, too, has witnessed unusually severe fires recently.

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