Contrary to press reports, EPA’s changes are not a rollback, but a chance to reduce duplication and enhance clarity.
The Trump administration has just proposed a new rule to amend restrictions on the monitoring of methane, a greenhouse gas that is supposed to be contributing to “global warming.”
The Trump administration laid out on Thursday a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. It would also reopen the question of whether the E.P.A. had the legal authority to regulate methane as a pollutant.
…E.P.A. officials said the new methane rule, which would replace one from the Obama administration, is a response to Mr. Trump’s calls to trim regulations that impede economic growth or keep the nation reliant on energy imports. The plan “removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” said the E.P.A. administrator, Andrew Wheeler. “The Trump administration recognizes that methane is valuable and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use.”
Mr. Wheeler noted that since 1990, natural gas production in the United States has almost doubled while methane emissions across the industry have fallen 15 percent.
However, according to the American Petroleum Institute, the EPA’s proposed changes to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) will continue to regulate Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) such as methane. This will drive levels down even lower.
Regulatory rollback? Not quite. Contrary to press reports, the EPA’s proposed changes to the NSPS will continue to effectively regulate VOCs and actually drive methane emissions down. https://t.co/NnXowA1O5M pic.twitter.com/3MV7ODZsAQ
— American Petroleum Institute (@APIenergy) August 30, 2019
…[M]odifying the NSPS could reduce duplication with state programs, provide greater clarity for industry in its regulatory compliance and, ultimately, further lower methane and other emissions and protect the environment. Nearly 90 percent of all U.S. natural gas and oil production will be regulated under the EPA’s NSPS by 2023. In fact, this procedural correction is best described as a realignment with the agency’s obligations under the Clean Air Act.
The well-worn “rollback” tale also dismisses the fact that it will still effectively regulate emissions, as well as industry’s leadership and laser-focus on reducing emissions through technology, innovation and industry initiative – such as The Environmental Partnership. Bottom line: methane is natural gas, and the industry is highly motivated to capture every molecule of it not only for environmental reasons, but for business reasons too.
The Trump administration asserted the new rules would save the oil and gas industry $17 million to $19 million annually in compliance costs. However, industry reaction is mixed, as some firms have green justice corporate types who are not supportive of the proposal.
…The American Petroleum Institute welcomed the rollback. “The oil and natural gas industry is laser-focused on cutting methane emissions through industry initiatives, smart regulations, new technologies, and best practices,” said Erik Milito, API’s Vice President of Upstream and Industry Operations.
But some oil and gas companies, including Shell, BP and Exxon, have actually supported the Obama-era regulations.
“Shell remains committed to achieving our target of maintaining methane emissions intensity below 0.2% by 2025 for all operated assets globally,” Shell U.S. President Gretchen Watkins said in a statement. “Despite the Administration’s proposal to no longer regulate methane, Shell’s U.S. assets will continue to contribute to that global target.”
Of course, the epicenter of the #Resistance movement is already threatening another lawsuit…on top of the nearly 50 filed.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra called the EPA proposal a “monumentally stupid decision” and said that the state, which has already sued the Trump administration at least 49 times over environmental policy issues, was “ready to fight this senseless decision.”
So why the misrepresentation? The usual blend of Trump Derangement Syndrome, desire for click-bait, and a refusal to for big government believers to embrace the idea that fewer rules might be better.
One benefit we can enjoy, however: Another downpour of liberal tears.
— Adele Diamond, Ph.D. (@DrAdeleDiamond) August 30, 2019
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