Methane is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs in nature and is produced industrially by the manufacturing of coal and natural gas, the treatment of wastewater, decomposition of waste and through the digestive process of domestic livestock. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methane accounts for 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. However, when captured and burned, methane can serve as a powerful energy source.
Methane comes from a number of different sources and is regulated by states in a variety of ways. Generally, state policies aim to monitor or prevent potentially harmful methane emissions, or encourage capturing methane to use as an energy source. The summaries below address these statutes and help to provide an outline for how states are regulating and utilizing methane.
Coal Mine Emissions
Coalbed methane is a form of natural gas that is found within coal and can present safety risks during underground mining; including the possibility of explosions and leakage into water systems. Five states—Alabama, California, Connecticut, Colorado and Kentucky—have taken precautions and limited the amount of methane gas allowed in a mine and developed procedures for cases of elevated levels and leakage.
Ala.Code 1975 § 25-9-82 Standards and procedures as to gases and air quality.
West’s Ann.Cal.Pub.Res.Code § 3240 Study.
West’s Ann.Cal.Pub.Res.Code § 3241 Strategy for extracting accumulations of methane and hazardous gas.
West’s Ann.Cal.Pub.Res.Code § 3851 Legislative findings and declarations; clear and present threat
C.G.S.A. § 16-19ww Natural gas infrastructure expansion plan. Hurdle rate; rate for new customers added pursuant to the plan; rate mechanism for gas companies to recover prudent investments made pursuant to the plan outside a rate proceeding; assignment of nonfirm margin credit.
C.R.S.A. § 37-92-308; Substitute water supply plans--special procedures for review--water adjudication cash fund--legislative declaration—repeal.
KRS § 349.035; Application of chapter; prohibition of waste; permits required; notification to state and federal agencies.
KRS § 349.150; Protection of rights in water resources; responsibility of operators to protect and preserve water supply.
Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States. Fourteen states have taken steps to monitor and prevent any potential threat to public health and safety from methane gas produced by landfills. The statutes set up regulations that focus on monitoring programs, as well as proper closure and postclosure plans that prevent future damages.
West’s Ann.Cal.Health & Safety Code § 25403.1 Local agency investigation or cleanup; plan; review; information requests
Ga. Code Ann., § 12-8-24 Permits required
I.C. § 39-7412; Standards for operation.
I.C.A. § 455J.3; Environmental management system designation requirements.
M.C.L.A. 324.11540 Rules for solid waste transporting units and disposal areas.
4 NAVAJO CODE § 131 Solid Waste Management Criteria.
Neb.Rev.St. § 13-2034; Integrated Solid Waste Management Rules and regulations.
N.J.S.A. 13:1E-101; Legislative findings and declarations.
N.J.S.A. 13:1E-106; Strict liability of fund for damages due to operations or closure of sanitary landfill; payment.
McKinney’s ECL § 27-0704. Land burial and disposal in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk; special provisions
R.C. § 3734.02 Rules of director of environmental protection; variances; permits for facilities; training program; certification of employees; hazardous waste; temporary emergency permit; fees; facilities in parks; technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material.
R.C. § 3734.041 3734.041 Explosive gas monitoring plan; reports; inspections; rules.
R.C. § 3734.05 Licenses and permits; notice, meetings, and hearings.
Code 1976 § 44-96-330 Minimum requirements for new and existing municipal solid waste landfills.
SDCL § 34A-6-1.6 Promulgation of rules, factors for consideration, scope and open burning.
SDCL § 34A-6-1.8 Areas addressed in application—Exception.
W.S.A. 292.23 Responsibility of local governmental units; solid waste.
W.S.1977 § 35-11-534; Program criteria; requirements for local operator.
Emissions Monitoring and Prevention
A number of states have passed laws that restrict methane emissions in order to reduce overall negative impacts. Some states have set specific goals, some have set up regulations to minimize methane leakage and overall environmental and health impacts and others have set up systems to report emission in order to develop strategies for reductions.
West's Ann.Cal.Pub.Res.Code § 3862; Zoning ordinance implementation; establishment of hazard areas and plan; rules and regulations.
Ga. Code Ann., § 36-80-18 Political subdivisions and public authorities to have environmental testing on property acquired for park or recreational area.
KRS § 224.20-125; Prohibition against promulgating administrative regulations or imposing permit conditions based on Kyoto Protocol without state or federal legislation.
35-A M.R.S.A. § 4508; Powers and authority of Public Utilities Commission.
MD Code, Real Property, § 10-603 Disclosures required for unwarranted homes.
MD Code, Real Property, § 10-604 New home warranty provisions.
McKinney’s Real Property Law § 462. Property condition disclosure statement.
R.C. § 903.10. Rulemaking powers; best management practices.
O.R.S. § 469.503 Approval requirements for facility site certificates; considerations for carbon dioxide emissions; implementation of offsets; funding and use of funds; definitions.
35 P.S. § 6020.701. Responsible person.
Gen.Laws 1956, § 1-7-6 Reporting.
Code 1976 § 27-50-40 Disclosure statements; contents; owner options.
V.T.C.A., Health & Safety Code § 361.536 Requirements for Structures on Closed Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Facility.
V.T.C.A., Government Code § 403.028; Strategies to Reduce Emissions of Greenhouse Gases.
6 V.S.A. § 1; General powers of agency; secretary of agriculture, food and markets.
W. Va. Code, § 22-5-19 Inventory of greenhouse gases.
Methane as Fuel/Energy
Methane is released during the breakdown of solid waste and can be captured and converted into energy. Eleven states have statutes focused on the potential of methane gas as an energy source.
C.R.S.A. § 40-2-123 New energy technologies, consideration by commission, incentives, demonstration projects, definitions, legislative declaration.
West’s F.S.A. § 403.7055 Methane capture.
30 ILCS 710/2-3 Formerly cited as IL ST CH 5 ¶ 2202-3 Administration of programs; alternative energy or energy conservation technologies.
220 ILCS 5/8-403.1; Electricity purchased from qualified solid waste energy facility; tax credit; distributions for economic development.
IC 21-47-4-1; Establishment; duties.
MD Code, Public Utilities, § 7-704 Formerly cited as MD PUBLIC UTIL COMP § 7-704 Eligibility for credits.
MD Code, Tax - General, § 10-720 Qualified energy resources tax credit.
V.A.M.S. 393.1030 Electric utilities, portfolio requirements, tracking requirements, rulemaking authority, rebate offers, certification of electricity generated.
V.A.M.S. 640.150; Duties as to energy activities.
Neb.Rev.St. § 13-2039; Land disposal of certain solid wastes; prohibited; when; exceptions.
Neb.Rev.St. § 70-1014.01 Special generation application; approval; findings required; eminent domain.
N.H. Rev. Stat. § 149-M:9 Permit Required.
N.J.S.A. 54A:4-13 Qualified investments in certain emerging technology businesses; computation of credit; credit for partnerships; rules and regulations; cap upon amount of credits allowed to taxpayers; definitions.
McKinney’s Cooperative Corporations Law § 13. Purposes for which general cooperative corporations may be formed.
McKinney’s Cooperative Corporations Law § 112. Incorporation.
27A Okl.St.Ann. § 2-10-802 Scales--Fees, reimbursement, exemptions--Expenditure of funds--Annual report.
O.R.S. § 307.175 Property equipped with alternative energy system.
T. C. A. § 4-3-709 Energy division; powers in promoting research and development.
T. C. A. § 65-28-201 Short title; legislative intent; construction of part.
T. C. A. § 65-28-203 Landfill methane development facilities.
VA Code Ann. § 67-102; Commonwealth Energy Policy.
Renewable Energy Credits
Nine states are now classifying methane gas as a renewable energy source, and can acquire renewable energy credits for the alternative technology. Other states are focusing on research that can expand the use of methane in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
West’s Ann.Cal.Pub.Util.Code § 399.12.6 Use of biomethane; eligibility for renewable energy resource.
C.R.S.A. § 40-2-124; Renewable energy standards, qualifying retail and wholesale utilities, definitions, net metering, legislative declaration.
C.G.S.A. § 16-245a; Renewable energy portfolio standards.
District of Columbia
DC ST § 34-1433; Renewable energy credits.
District of Columbia
DC ST § 8-1774.09 Renewable energy incentive program.
IC 8-1-8.8-10 “Renewable energy resources” defined.
Neb.Rev.St. § 77-27,235; Renewable energy tax credit; Department of Revenue; powers.
N.C.G.S.A. § 62-133.8; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS)
30 V.S.A. § 8015 Vermont clean energy development fund.
W. Va. Code, § 5B-2A-3 Definitions.
W. Va. Code, § 5B-2F-2 Purpose; office of Director for Energy Development; director to be member of Public Energy Authority; division to develop energy policy and development plan; contents of energy policy and development plan; and division to promote energy initiatives