In response to President Biden’s Executive Order entitled, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a proposed rule taking aim at greenhouse gases (GHG) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from new and existing oil and natural gas production, processing, transmission, and storage facilities. The proposal contains three basic components. In a break with precedent, EPA did not provide proposed regulatory language.
First, the proposed rule would revise the new source performance standards (NSPS) for GHGs and VOCs for new, modified, and reconstructed sources, including the production, processing, transmission, and storage segments. Specifically, EPA proposes to a new subpart OOOOb that would update and expand the current requirements under CAA Section 111(b) for methane and VOC emissions from sources constructed, modified, or reconstructed after November 15, 2021. NSPS OOOOb would include standards for emission sources not regulated previously under the 2016 NSPS OOOOa. Among other changes, EPA proposes to apply to VOC emissions thresholds to storage vessel tank batteries as opposed to individual storage tanks. EPA has also suggested a change to the definition of legal and practical enforceability which could impact the utilization of state-level permitting previously used to reduce the potential to emit to below the 6 ton per year VOC-threshold.
Second, the proposed rule would create a new subpart OOOOc that would contain the first nationwide emissions guidelines (EG). The EG would be a state model rule that states could use to develop, submit, and implement state plans that establish performance standards to limit GHGs from existing sources.