American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - 32

Litigation challenging the Environmental
Protection Agency's new methane regulations likely will be driven on overarching issues such as whether EPA made a
pollutant-specific endangerment finding
for methane under the Clean Air Act and
whether methane emissions made a
"significant contribution" to global warming that justified regulations, Independent Petroleum Association of America Executive Vice President Lee Fuller advises Liaison Committee participants.

the challenges to EPA's methane rules.
Fuller noted that various legal challenges
by industry-including a 19-association
coalition led by IPAA-and states had
been consolidated under North Dakota v.
Environmental Protection Agency in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia.
"The litigation likely will be driven on
big issues," Fuller surmised.
Among the half-dozen issues IPAA
submitted to the court in a nonbinding
statement in September, he indicated,
were such things as:
* Whether EPA was required to make
a pollutant-specific endangerment finding
for methane under the Clean Air Act, such
as it did previously for carbon dioxide;
* Whether the industry's methane
emissions made a "significant contribution" to global warming that justified
regulations; and
* Whether EPA's expansion of the oil
and natural gas source category, its reliance
on the 2009 greenhouse gas endangerment
finding, or its cost/benefit analysis were
arbitrary and capricious.
The idea is, Fuller said, "If EPA failed
on any of these points, it restarts the clock.
For example, if it failed to make the appropriate endangerment finding, EPA
then would have to go back and do the
finding, and then move forward on the
whole process again."
At the same time the legal challenge
is moving forward, Fuller continued, he
said IPAA also had filed a petition for administrative reconsideration with EPA.
Again, he said, the petitioners are raising
a variety of issues such as what consti32 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

tutes a facility and the requirement that
a professional engineer certify certain actions.
But a critical issue for independents,
Fuller said, is EPA's decision not to exclude
low-production wells in the final rule.
"EPA has a very poor understanding of declining production," he characterized.
"Most people working on this project have
backgrounds in refining or some other kind
of industrial process that essentially has
constant flow rates."
Fuller said IPAA's petition also questioned the data on which EPA based its decision to drop the marginal well exemption, which he explained came from a
study undertaken by the Environmental
Defense Fund and submitted by the Clean
Air Task Force. "Basically, the EDF report
used data from other studies that (came
from) a number of drive-by sampling of
production sites with monitoring equipment. If they found a methane plume, they
would sample it for six minutes to an hour,
depending on the study. EDF calculated
emission numbers from those studies."
Not only was EDF's report "a slice in
time," but Fuller said EDF used a number
of "data analysis tricks" to make small
wells appear to be "super-emitters."
Emissions Protocol
One key to success, Fuller advised Liaison, will be to provide the quality of information that not only may convince EPA
to reconsider exempting low-volume
wells, but also can "sustain the inevitable
pushback from environmental groups."
That is where the Research Partnership
to Secure Energy for America may be able
to help, offered President Thomas E.
Williams.
Williams also chairs the IOGCC Energy Resources, Research and Technology
Committee, which in September published its first marginal well report in three
years. In leading that effort, he said he became convinced low-volume wells could

Thomas E. Williams (left), president of the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, makes a point with Alex
Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, at
the Liaison Committee meeting
Oct. 3 in Little Rock, Ar. Williams
reported to Liaison on a protocol RPSEA had developed to
more accurately calculate
methane emissions from lowvolume wells.

not bear the cost of complying with the
new methane rules.
"My focus became on EPA at least providing an exemption for marginal wells,"
he told Liaison.
Fortunately, Williams said, a RPSEAfunded project team has developed an
emissions measurement protocol that includes a foundation for mobile instrumentation standards, configurations and realtime analysis for measuring emissions
from drilling operations, fracture spread
equipment, and storage units. Importantly, he added, the project team was advised
by two technical advisory steering committees that included participants from
EPA as well as the Department of Energy and U.S. Geological Survey.
Williams said he approached IPAA,
which had agreed to endorse the protocol.
"I feel very strongly this is something that
will have an impact," he averred.
If it can obtain access to companies' facilities, Williams said RPSEA proposed to
study emissions in three regions. He suggested either West or South Texas, along
with either the Denver-Julesburg or Williston basin, and Appalachia.
However, he emphasized, "The data
will be what they will be. They will be representative and they will be averagable. We
will not compromise our report; all we
want to do is to provide sound, sciencebased information."
Information Collection Request
The other methane dynamic moving
forward concurrently, Fuller continued, is
the existing-facility information collection
request (ICR), which was published in the
Sept. 29 Federal Register.
EPA describes the ICR as a one-time,
corporate- and operator-level survey to provide the agency with counts of equipment
(wells, tanks, compressors, etc.) at each facility owned or operated by that entity.
But Fuller warned, "I have had a number of larger operators tell me that having



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - 1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - 2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - November 2016 - Contents
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