The following is a press release from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA)
On June 30, 2021, President Biden signed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution that rescinded the 2020 EPA regulations revising the targeted emissions for regulation under New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for oil and natural gas production facilities. The primary effect of this change is to reinstate the 2016 NSPS - Subpart OOOOa - that regulates many components for methane emissions rather than volatile organic compounds (VOC). However, this action now creates regulatory inconsistencies between the 2016 NSPS and the 2020 technical revisions to that NSPS. For oil and natural gas production the most significant impact relates to low production wellsites (production at or less than 15 barrels/day of oil equivalent).
The 2020 technical revisions to Subpart OOOOa provided for an offramp from its leak detection and repair (LDAR) provisions when wellsite production fell below 15 barrels/day. However, EPA has now concluded that because this provision applied to VOC emissions and the CRA resolution eliminated that regulation, these wellsites are now returned to their status under the 2016 methane-based Subpart OOOOa. They will again be subject to the semi-annual LDAR program. An EPA question and answer document is attached that explains the agency's rationale.
NSPS regulations apply to new and modified sources. A modified source would be, for example, a refractured well. There are no current federal regulations on existing sources, including low production wells. Existing sources are currently regulated by states and some states may have low production well requirements.
The CRA action is the beginning of a long EPA regulatory process. In September 2021, EPA has been directed to propose revisions to the 2020 technical changes to Subpart OOOOa and to propose emissions guidelines under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act that would apply to all existing sources. These emissions guidelines would ultimately become state regulations unless the state defers to EPA for implementing a federal program. Both of these actions will be developed through the federal rulemaking process that includes a notice and comment period