The San Francisco Chronicle
By Dominic Fracassa
California air quality officials have approved what are widely considered to be the most rigorous and comprehensive regulations in the country for controlling methane emissions, a move that helps cement the state’s status as a standard-bearer for environmental protection.
The new rules, green-lighted Thursday by the state’s Air Resources Board, seek to curb methane emissions at oil and gas production plants by up to 45 percent over the next nine years. The cuts will come from a combination of heightened efficiency requirements, inspection mandates and rules meant to ensure that leaks are discovered and fixed swiftly. The regulations apply to both onshore and offshore oil and gas centers.
The standards, which experts said mark the first major piece of environmental regulation passed by any state since the turnover of power in Washington, were hailed as a triumph by environmental activists, but criticized as cumbersome, costly and ultimately unnecessary by oil and gas producers.
“Our industry is not the top emitter of methane in the state, yet this rule will add to the nation’s toughest regulations that our operators must follow, such as cap and trade,” Rock Zierman, the chief executive officer of industry trade group the California Independent Petroleum Association, said in a statement. “We hope that regulators will provide ample time for implementation and ensure that the program is fairly and consistently enforced across the state.”
Above: Crews work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon plant in Los Angeles in 2014. Dean Musgrove, Associated Press.
Chronicle staff writer David R. Baker contributed to this report.
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