As we continue
toward a lower-carbon future, innovative measures that have already helped
reduce emissions and protect the environment should be the cornerstone of our
low-carbon energy strategy in the years ahead.
All of us recognize
the importance of reducing methane emissions. The American Petroleum Institute
(API) supports federal regulation of methane from new and existing sources.
is just a piece of the puzzle. If we are to meet the challenge of reducing
emissions—while also producing affordable, safe and reliable energy that the
world needs—American energy industry leadership is paramount. It’s essential. And
leadership is what the oil and natural gas industry is providing.
leadership. Five years ago, API launched The Environmental Partnership
(TEP), an unprecedented coalition of oil and natural gas producers committed to
continuously improving the industry’s environmental performance. TEP has been successful.
Its programs have been a part of the U.S. achieving a 66% reduction in methane
emissions intensity of production across all major oil- and natural
gas-producing regions over the past decade. Meanwhile, TEP participants report a
nearly 50% decline in flare intensity. Both are key measuring sticks, as we gauge
efforts to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.
And TEP is ready
to achieve even more. Its membership growth—from a couple dozen participants five
years ago to more than 100 today, representing 70% of America’s onshore
production—reflects the industry’s prioritizing of environmental progress. At TEP’s
launch, participants were concentrated in the oil and natural gas upstream
segment, which discovers, develops and produces energy. More recently, TEP was
expanded to the midstream segment—pipelines that move oil and natural gas from
where it is produced to refineries and processing centers and then to families,
manufacturers, and other businesses.
At every step
of the way, a strength of TEP has been collaboration, working together—
remarkable, considering these companies are marketplace competitors. This
cooperation shows the industry’s sincere commitment to take action, to reduce
performance programs. Since its inception, TEP has created several environmental
performance programs, each focused on key sources of methane, as identified by
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
on methane. As you can see, our industry is hard at work finding and
improving solutions on methane emissions. We’re highly motivated to reduce
these emissions, because methane is the key component of the natural gas our
companies bring to American families and businesses. The goal is relatively
simple: Keep methane in the pipe.
API is eager
to build on the quantifiable environmental benefits made in TEP’s first five
years. We’re expanding TEP’s focus in four key areas: facility design;
operations and maintenance; measurement and detection; and data integrity. TEP also
will continue to systematically document and share pertinent findings and
practices throughout the oil and natural gas industry.
There is more
to be done, yet the outlook for continued progress is encouraging. Again, API
supports regulation of methane, and we have engaged with EPA to ensure that the
agency’s final rule encourages innovation while building on the progress made through
TEP and other initiatives. We think this is the appropriate regulatory path.
track. Recently, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality issued
interim guidance on measuring GHG and climate impacts of infrastructure projects
under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) that is not helpful. It veers
into EPA’s already established lane on emissions and risks lengthening NEPA’s
review processes, which already take an average of more than four years to complete.
This is problematic, not just for oil and natural gas infrastructure, but for others
as well, including wind and hydroelectric projects, vegetation management, airports,
and traffic improvements.
So, let’s keep
our eye on what is already working, as well as ways to improve or add to those
MACCHIAROLA is Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory
Affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.