Gas Driller Calls for Federal Methane Leak Curbs

Gas Driller Calls for Federal Methane Leak Curbs
EQT Corp. is calling for stricter caps on methane leaks from natural gas wells.

(Bloomberg) -- EQT Corp. is calling for stricter caps on methane leaks from natural gas wells after the Trump administration relaxed the rules in a bid to boost the domestic energy industry.

EQT, which pumps more gas than any other driller in the U.S., is supporting Congressional resolutions condemning last year’s rollback of Obama-era limits on emissions from new oil and gas wells, according to a statement on Thursday. Hours earlier, the Pittsburgh-based explorer unveiled plans to obtain third-party certification of the so-called responsible sourcing for most of its output.

Restoring the federal standards would provide more transparency, and EQT as well as the “overwhelming majority” of the industry would be able to immediately comply with them after years of progress in reducing emissions, according to EQT Chief Executive Officer Toby Rice.

“Frankly, the rollbacks weren’t necessary in the first place,” Rice said in an interview. “We already operate a whole lot cleaner and more efficiently than the general public give us credit for.”

The fossil-fuel industry is facing increasing pressure from investors, policy makers and environmental activists to take concrete steps to confront climate change. Although gas is cleaner than coal in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, methane itself is a potent greenhouse gas, which means accidental leaks and intentional releases pose a greater threat.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced plans earlier this week for third-party certification of its gas as responsibly sourced. The initiative involves installing emission-monitoring gear at wells sites in Pennsylvania and Louisiana. A group of 41 natural gas companies under the ONE Future Coalition has already reached its long-term methane reduction goals, Rice said.

There’s increasing demand from domestic utilities with decarbonization targets and from liquefied natural gas exporters for a product that’s certified as meeting environmental, social and governance criteria, Rice said. “That’s a real opportunity for EQT.”

EQT’s move is also part of a broader industry effort to ensure that gas will continue to play a relevant role in decade-long transition away from fossil fuels. “What you’re seeing is a need to differentiate between natural gas and other forms of energy,” Rice said. “We think that natural gas is that is the cleanest form of energy that has a proved track record of operating at scale.”

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