Emission management

Federal Advisory Targets Minimizing Methane Emissions From Pipelines

US President Biden is seeking plans from pipeline operators aimed at curbing methane emissions in their daily operations.

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The Biden Administration released a new advisory bulletin on 7 June directing pipeline operators to provide detailed plans for minimizing methane emissions from their systems and operations by the end of the year.

The US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) submitted the advisory to production companies to begin to comply with the PIPES Act, a law signed at the end of 2020, that created dozens of new regulatory mandates for the agency including the oversight of methane leaks by natural gas pipelines and transmission systems.

“Minimizing methane emissions from pipelines will help improve safety and combat climate change, while creating jobs for pipeline workers,” said Tristan Brown, PHMSA acting administrator. “Pipeline operators have an obligation to protect the public and the environment by identifying and addressing methane leaks.”

Released methane is the second-greatest source of greenhouse-gas emissions after carbon dioxide but can be more harmful in the short term due to its heat-trapping potential.

According to the bulletin, operators have until 27 December to get inspection and maintenance plans related to methane emissions in place. The agency said it would begin enforcing the requirements in January 2022. PHMSA is also expected soon to finalize new standards for the 400,000 miles of natural gas gathering lines that are currently unregulated at the federal level.

The advisory applies to the more than 2.8 million miles of pipelines, the estimated 17,000 natural gas wells, and the 164 LNG facilities in the US. PHMSA estimates it covers about one-third of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

For further reading about the sources of methane emissions from pipeline networks:

Natural-Gas Gathering and Boosting Stations Are Ripe for Mitigation of Emissions

Who's Minding the Methane? Federal Emissions Rules in Flux, States and Industry Take the Reins