Thought Leadership

Baker Botts Washington Recap - Episode 12

Client Updates

In the latest installment of our video series on important regulatory and legislative updates, Partner Jeff Oliver discusses the letter President Biden sent to FTC Chair Lina Khan encouraging an investigation into oil and gas companies and retail gasoline prices. In other antitrust news, the Senate confirmed Jonathan Kanter to lead the DOJ antitrust division on Tuesday, November 16. On Wednesday, November 17, the Senate held confirmation hearings for Alvaro Bedoya, President Biden's nominee for the empty seat at the Federal Trade Commission.

Senior Associate Kimberly White provides an updates on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed New Source Performance Standards ("NSPS") and Emissions Guidelines (EGs) for methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas sources. 

Key features of the proposed rules and EGs include:

  • A comprehensive monitoring program for well sites and compressor stations.
  • Flexibility to use advanced measurement technology to detect leaks at well sites and compressor stations.
  • New requirements for zero-emitting pneumatic controllers and intermittent vent pneumatic controllers.
  • Standards to eliminate venting of associated gas, and require capture and sale of gas where a sales line is available, at new and existing oil wells.
  • Proposed performance standards and presumptive standards for other new and existing sources, including storage tanks, liquids unloading, pneumatic pumps, and compressors.
  • A requirement that states meaningfully engage with overburdened and underserved communities in developing state plans.

EPA will take comment on the proposed rule for 60 days or until January 14, 2022. The agency plans to issue the final rule by the end of 2022. 

 

 

In antitrust news this week:

On Wednesday, President Biden sent a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan encouraging an investigation into oil and gas companies and retail gasoline prices. This is the second time in four months the White House has requested an investigation into retail fuel prices.

President Biden claimed that retail fuel prices are abnormally high and potentially the result of anticompetitive conduct.  Industry groups quickly took issue with the claim.  The American Petroleum Institute issued a statement arguing that elevated gasoline prices are at least partially the result of restrictive government policies under Biden.

If the FTC follows the President’s call for a pricing investigation, industry players – particularly refiners and marketers – should expect to receive extensive document and data subpoenas in the coming months. 

In other antitrust news, the Senate confirmed Jonathan Kanter to lead the DOJ antitrust division on Tuesday.  Kanter is known to be a strong critic of big tech companies and his confirmation is seen as a win for the progressive push for more aggressive antitrust enforcement.

On Wednesday, the Senate held confirmation hearings for Alvaro Bedoya, President Biden’s nominee for the empty seat at the Federal Trade Commission.  Mr. Bedoya’s confirmation is expected to go forward, despite some mild opposition from a few Republican senators.

On November 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published proposed New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) and Emissions Guidelines (“EGs”) for methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas sources.  The proposed rule is made up of three components affecting sources in the Crude Oil and Natural Gas source category:

For new, modified, and reconstructed sources EPA proposed updated and broadened methane and VOC emission reduction requirements.

For existing oil and gas sources EPA proposed requirements that states develop plans to limit methane emissions, along with nationwide Emissions Guidelines to assist states in the planning process. The Emissions Guidelines would not impose binding requirements directly on sources but instead would provide requirements for states in developing their plans.  State plans must be submitted to and approved by EPA pursuant to a public notice and comment process. 

Key features of the proposed rules and EGs include:

  • A comprehensive monitoring program for well sites and compressor stations.
  • Flexibility to use advanced measurement technology to detect leaks at well sites and compressor stations.
  • New requirements for zero-emitting pneumatic controllers and intermittent vent pneumatic controllers.
  • Standards to eliminate venting of associated gas, and require capture and sale of gas where a sales line is available, at new and existing oil wells.
  • Proposed performance standards and presumptive standards for other new and existing sources, including storage tanks, liquids unloading, pneumatic pumps, and compressors.
  • A requirement that states meaningfully engage with overburdened and underserved communities in developing state plans.

For new, modified, and reconstructed sources and sources subject to NSPS OOOOa EPA is taking certain actions stemming from the joint resolution of Congress to disapprove the 2020 NSPS OOOOa Policy Amendments.

EPA also intends to issue a supplemental proposal in 2022 and is requesting information on additional sources of methane for the Agency to consider in that rulemaking. 

EPA will take comment on the proposed rule for 60 days or until January 14, 2022. The Agency also will hold virtual public hearings and virtual training.  The agency plans to issue the final rule by the end of 2022.

 

 

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