Methane recovery primarily targets the natural gas and petroleum industries. Natural gas methane capture avoids emissions from the natural gas system through hardware components or operational methods that reduce both unintended emissions and emissions released as part of routine operations. Reusing captured methane on site as a fuel input or for injection into the natural gas system is another option for methane capture.
Establishing performance standards for the particular hardware and processes involved in natural gas and petroleum systems can go a long way to capture fugitive methane. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established “green completion” requirements for new natural gas wells that require particular steps to reduce the venting of gases when new wells are first brought into production. Even more methane emissions would be addressed if the U.S. applied similar standards to existing wells. There are many more opportunities for performance standards throughout the natural gas supply chain and in the petroleum sector.
Technologies to monitor and enforce performance standards have improved greatly in recently years—in both cost and operational capability—and government enforcement can take advantage of these advancements to ensure strong regulatory compliance.
For a more detailed discussion, see the applicable chapter of Designing Climate Solutions, our book on smart energy and climate policy design.