EPA, DOE Announce Methane Reduction Funding

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2024


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced a Notice of Intent aimed at making funds available for the measurement and reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors.

According to the EPA, the funding would come from President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and could help oil and natural gas sector operators cut methane emissions and transition to innovative methane emission reduction technologies.   

The funding is also reportedly meant to aid in supporting partnerships that work to improve emissions measurement and provide accurate, transparent data to impacted communities.

Emissions Funding

The release explains that methane is a climate super pollutant, more potent than carbon dioxide and responsible for around one third of the warming from greenhouse gases being emitted.

Through a combination of technical and financial assistance, the Methane Emissions Reduction Program aims to aid in reducing inefficiencies in oil and gas operations, creating new jobs in energy and disadvantaged communities, improving public health and acting on near-term emission reductions.

“We know the adoption of cleaner and smarter ways to monitor and reduce wasteful methane emissions is critical to addressing climate change,” said Jennifer Macedonia, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation. 

“Through these historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA and DOE will invest in American innovation and contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of reducing climate pollution while improving public health and protecting communities.”

If released, the funding opportunity would reportedly focus on three areas:

  • Mitigating methane emissions and reducing other air pollution associated with existing wells and infrastructure: Funds would reportedly be provided to help mitigate and monitor methane emissions from low-producing wells and other oil and natural gas assets, owned and/or operated by small producers/operators, through a small number of awards. The awards would reportedly each fund a selected lead entity like an organization representing oil and natural gas producers, a non-governmental research institution, university, or Tribal organization;
  • Accelerating the deployment of innovative methane reduction solutions for reducing emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems: This may include efforts to support the field demonstration of near-commercial solutions that can address emissions from difficult-to-mitigate sources on a large scale, to hasten the use of innovative methane emissions reduction technology solutions; and
  • Characterizing and quantifying methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations across multiple, large geographical regions through the creation of regional methane emissions measurement and monitoring consortia: Activities reportedly may include methane emissions data collection and acquisition; the development of annual emissions estimates at equipment-, facility-, and basin-levels; and training on data and technology usage for workers in the oil and gas industry and communities with environmental justice concerns.

“As part of a whole of government approach, DOE and EPA are coordinating our efforts to address methane emissions throughout the oil and natural gas supply chain,” said Ryan Peay, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Resource Sustainability in DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

“Together we are supporting innovative solutions that will address these harmful emissions at a large scale across the nation, while also developing region-specific assistance that will result in environmental, health, and safety benefits for local communities.”

In keeping with the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to promote the clean energy transition benefits, this program also hopes to advance the Justice40 Initiative. This initiative has set the goal for 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate and clean energy investments to flow to disadvantaged communities and to create broader energy prosperity.

Guidance on specific application and reporting requirements will reportedly be included in the program funding opportunity announcement.

Previous Actions

In December 2023, the EPA and the DOE released a new conditional commitment to help measure and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

According to a release from the EPA, 14 states were set to receive a total of $350 million in formula grant funding to aid in efforts that cut methane emissions from wells on nonfederal lands, as well as supported the restoration of well sites.

The funding was reportedly made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Through these investments, the Methane Emissions Reduction Program reportedly aimed to help reduce waste, create new jobs in energy communities and produce near-term emission reductions.

The release stated that monitoring and mitigating methane emissions from the oil and gas sector can benefit energy communities, including low-income and communities of color. These actions may also promote long-lasting health and environmental benefits across the country, the release added.

This commitment reportedly helped the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental justice agenda through the Justice40 Initiative, setting the goal for 40% of the overall benefits of certain covered Federal investments to go towards disadvantaged or Justice40 communities.

According to the EPA, once all legal and administrative requirements were complete, funding from the Methane Emissions Reduction Program was expected to dole out a combination of technical and financial assistance to states.

This aid was expected to help well owners and operators find and cut out methane emissions from low-producing conventional oil and gas wells with disproportionately high methane emissions.

Some of the state agencies that were reportedly given conditional funding commitments based on the proportion of the total number of low-producing conventional wells in participating states on nonfederal lands, included:

  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - $134,151,343;
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection - $44,457,220;
  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection - $37,791,464;
  • California State Lands Commission - $21,913,688;
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources - $17,367,009;
  • Louisiana Department of Natural Resources - $15,661,335;
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - $8,123,602;
  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy - $5,022,306;
  • State of Utah Department of Environmental Quality - $2,750,115; and
  • State of Virginia Department of Energy - $2,643,702.

These conditional commitments for grant funding were reportedly the first in a series of funding opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act.

In 2024, EPA and DOE reportedly planned to make more competitive solicitations available to a larger range of applicants to progress the deployment of technologies and practices to monitor and reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases.

   

Tagged categories: Air pollution control; Air quality; Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Funding; Gas detectors; Government; Grants; Greenhouse gas; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Safety; U.S. Department of Energy; VOC emissions

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