Tougher Methane Standards Considered by Climate Change Commission, MDE

At its 2016-08-22 meeting, the Mitigation Working Group of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) began discussions on how to address methane emissions as part of the MCCC’s larger efforts to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emission by 40% of their 2006 levels by 2030. The State is on track to meet a previously set reduction goal of 25% by 2020.

A prior version of the MCCC was created through Executive Order by former Governor Martin O’Malley in 2007 and modified in 2014. The new MCCC was created by statute (SB 258 of 2015) and was only slightly changed from the 2014 version. MACo successfully requested that a county representative be added to the MCCC during the discussions of SB 258 and Prince George’s County Council Member Deni Taveras is MACo’s representative on the MCCC.

The Working Group considered a three-pronged proposal from MDE to address methane emissions:

  • Address in-state methane emissions from existing facilities, including landfills, compressor stations, and wastewater treatment plants
  • Address out-of-state methane emissions from states that are “upstream” of Maryland (because of its location, a significant portion of Maryland’s air pollution issues comes from other states)
  • Address potential methane leakage from natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) if it happens in Maryland

MDE representatives stated that they have already begun work on updated regulations to minimize methane emissions from in-state facilities. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp is a member of the Mitigation Working Group. Knapp cautioned that county governments need to be central participants in the methane regulations, urged MDE and the State to continue its efforts to address out-of-state methane sources, and requested that affected counties be part of the hydraulic fracturing debate. MDE stated it will hold stakeholder meetings, including with the counties, on the potential methane regulations soon.

In addition to methane leakage, the Working Group is also looking at: (1) electric and other zero emission vehicle initiatives; and (2) enhanced economic analysis/social equity issues for certain types of development projects. The Working Group plans to finalize its methane emission recommendations by October 24 and its other recommendations by November 28.

Useful Links

MCCC Webpage

MDE Greenhouse Gas Update to Mitigation Working Group

Conduit Street Overview of New MCCC