New EPA Rules on Methane Could Be a Win for Ohio's Economy

The nation's oil and gas industry emits at least 13 million metric tons of methane a year

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click to enlarge More than 220,000 productive oil-and-gas wells have been drilled in Ohio, around 60,000 of which are in current operation, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
More than 220,000 productive oil-and-gas wells have been drilled in Ohio, around 60,000 of which are in current operation, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released rules which would for the first time require regular inspections of all methane-emitting oil and gas production sites throughout the country.


Groups backing the new rules said they will also pave the way for more jobs in Ohio's the natural gas industry.

The rules are an update to standards the Biden administration released last year.

Sarah Spence, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, said in addition to cleaner air, the changes could mean more employment in the methane-capture business, particularly in the state's Utica Shale region.

"We're already headquarters for two manufacturing firms and five service firms that deal in methane mitigation," Spence pointed out. "I think these rules will allow those companies to grow and to hire more Ohioans to work for them in those areas."

In 2014, Ohio implemented laws requiring oil and gas operators to check for and fix equipment leaks to reduce air pollution. The nation's oil and gas industry emits at least 13 million metric tons of methane a year, according to research from the Environmental Defense Fund.

Energy developers have said methane-capture equipment is costly, especially for smaller producers.

Isaac Brown, executive director of the Center for Methane Emission Solutions, noted there is a burgeoning market for companies to provide technologies to help oil and gas companies address emissions.

"Jobs can be created to help companies comply with these rules," Brown emphasized. "Because these rules will result in more product being saved that can be brought to market, producers can also actually see their profits increase."

Spence added low-producing wells in Ohio's Appalachian region produce enough methane to power a significant number of Ohio households, if it were captured and recycled.

"There's a lot of opportunity here to be able to take a resource that we already use, and be able to capture it for further use," Spence contended.

According to research from Stanford University, the amount of methane in the earth's atmosphere has increased at twice the rate of carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution.
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