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For Release: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

DEC Announces Proposed Regulations to Reduce Methane Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Sector

Proposal Combats Climate Change by Requiring Methane and VOC Emission Controls at Oil and Natural Gas Wells, Compressor Stations, Other Sources

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced proposed regulations to reduce methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions statewide from existing oil and natural gas infrastructure. The proposed regulations mark a milestone in realizing New York's nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda and have the potential to reduce methane emissions by more than 14,000 tons per year, and volatile organic compound emissions by over 2,000 tons per year. The announcement was made during DEC's week-long celebration of Earth Week 2021.

"New York State continues to lead the nation in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the harmful impacts of these emissions on our environment, economy, and communities," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "New York's transition to clean, renewable sources of energy is ongoing, and these proposed regulations will play a critical role helping to achieve the State's ambitious climate goals by capturing and preventing leaks and unnecessary venting of methane from oil and natural gas wells and compressor stations."

Today's announcement demonstrates New York's leadership on addressing the climate crisis by regulating and controlling the harmful emissions from methane leakage and venting. Methane is second to carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change because of its high volume in the atmosphere and strong radiative effects. The regulations proposed today would help address methane emissions from this sector by reducing more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, comparable to taking an estimated 236,753 cars off the road. The regulations significantly reduce, and in many instances prohibit, the venting of natural gas to the atmosphere at wells, compressor stations, storage sites, and metering and regulating stations. In addition, the proposed regulations contain rigorous leak detection and repair requirements for oil and gas infrastructure, as well as requirements for controls and operations.

There are 32 permitted compressor stations with a total of 117 compressors in New York State. New York also has 27 underground natural gas storage sources and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 metering stations. In New York State in 2018, there were 3,411 active oil wells and 6,729 active gas wells with 10.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 224,717 barrels of oil extracted.

The proposed regulations will be published in the State Register and available for review on Wednesday, May 12. DEC has scheduled two virtual public hearings on the proposal at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on July 20. DEC is accepting public comments on the proposal until 5 p.m. on July 26, 2021.

This proposal is the latest step New York is taking to reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. In December 2020, DEC and NYSERDA announced the State's upcoming use of high-tech aerial surveillance equipment to locate and plug abandoned, decades-old oil and gas wells that leak methane into the environment. In addition, regulations finalized late last year (leaves DEC's website) establish limits requiring that statewide emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases be reduced 40 percent by 2030, 85 percent by 2050, including emissions associated with imported electricity and fossil fuels. These actions support Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Methane Reduction Plan, a suite of 25 actions to reduce methane emissions from the landfill, oil and gas, and agricultural sectors across the state.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and advancing progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

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