Trump Admin Acts to Eliminate Obama-Era Methane Mandates

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Washington, August 29, 2019 | Ben Goldey | comments

Today, Members of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucus released the following statements after the Environmental Protection Agency released proposed rules to eliminate Obama-era methane mandates:

Senate Western Caucus Chairman Steve Daines (MT): "This is good news for Montana. We can unleash American energy while also protecting the environment and clean air. The EPA’s rewrite of the burdensome and overreaching Obama regulation eliminates duplication and will allow Montana energy to grow while also maintaining important air quality controls."

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "President Obama weaponized the EPA against the energy industry, creating job-killing regulations, and stifling American energy and economic growth. Duplicative and costly methane mandates from the Obama administration still burden our energy sector and hold back America energy dominance. Thankfully, President Trump and Administrator Wheeler understand that industry and the environment can coexist."

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Emeritus Rob Bishop (UT-01): "For too long, the overregulation of methane has imposed undue burdens. By continuing on this unnecessary path, we fail to alleviate inflating energy prices or provide meaningful environmental gains. Removing barriers to energy production here at home, where we have the most stringent environmental standards, should be common sense. These proposals by the EPA are in line with the prudent policy of securing American energy independence and prosperity."

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jim Inhofe (OK): "I applaud Administrator Wheeler for releasing the draft rule today which will replace the burdensome and unnecessary methane rule crafted by the Obama Administration. As I said when it was first proposed, the old methane rule had no environmental benefit and created needless costs while hindering economic growth. Methane emissions have continued to decrease by voluntary actions initiated by industry, all while oil and gas production has skyrocketed. With this kind of progress, why would regulation be necessary? I am proud of Administrator Wheeler and the EPA, under the direction of President Trump, for continuing to rollback Obama-era regulations that were made with little concern for the law or the effect they may have on our economy."

Senator Kevin Cramer (ND):
"North Dakota is a leader in oil and natural gas production; and as I like to say, North Dakota does not need Washington imposing its mediocrity on our excellence. This proposed rule maintains health and environmental protections while eliminating duplicative regulations which increase compliance costs for producers that get passed along to consumers. I applaud Administrator Wheeler for continuing President Trump’s promise to eliminate burdensome regulations placed on energy production, and I urge North Dakotans to offer their input on this proposal."

Senator John Hoeven (ND): "This revision of EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry will remove costly, duplicative regulations. We all want to make the best use of our natural resources, which is why we will continue working to streamline the approval process for energy infrastructure, like gas-gathering lines, to help producers in North Dakota, who are already working to capture flared gas, monitor leaks and get this valuable resource to market. Reducing unnecessary compliance costs will better bolster investment in our energy industry enabling natural gas gathering systems to be built more expeditiously to reduce flaring and ensure we capture this valuable resource."

Regulatory Reform Officer Andy Biggs (AZ-05): "Promises made, promises kept: I commend President Trump and his administration for taking action against the EPA’s disastrous methane rule.  By promoting energy independence and economic growth through a sound deregulatory agenda, we will continue to see a boom in the American oil and gas sector that helps fuel millions of lives across the world." 

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY-At Large): "I applaud the Trump Administration for eliminating the unnecessary and overreaching Obama-Era Methane Rule that imperiled crucial sectors of our state’s economy. When this rule was implemented by the previous administration, it represented an existential threat to both America's energy industry - which employs thousands of workers in Wyoming - and to the affordable and reliable fossil fuels that families across the country rely on. Fortunately, President Trump has reversed this approach and instead championed the resources that our country has at its disposal. Today’s amendments put forward by the EPA will allow the private sector to create more jobs and produce more energy at home. I will continue to work with the President and Administrator Wheeler to further increase domestic energy production, while reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulation."

Congressman James Comer (KY-01): "This administration has prioritized removing barriers for competition and promoting common-sense regulations that benefit American industry. I applaud Administrator Wheeler and the EPA for rolling back this restrictive, unnecessary and costly rule that has proved detrimental to our domestic energy sector. Taking action against this harmful Obama-era rule is a major win for our energy producers."

Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05): "I applaud Administrator Wheeler for correcting the Obama Administration’s improper regulatory overreach and for following the letter of the law. Today’s proposed rule will remove duplicative and unnecessary regulations which needlessly burden the development and use of our domestic energy resources. The fact is that the oil and gas industry will always have an economic incentive to limit methane because capturing it allows companies to sell more gas. That is why methane emissions have continued to decrease while energy production has increased over the same time period. Innovation and technology improvements within the oil and gas industry and not ideologically driven government regulation has made the U.S. the world’s leader in emissions reductions."

Congressman Ken Buck (CO-04): "I’m glad to see the EPA move forward with these critical, commonsense reforms that reduce burdensome regulations on the oil and gas industry, which in turn is a huge win for Colorado. I look forward to seeing the industry continue the good work they’re doing to reduce methane emissions while maximizing its safe production and use without the heavy hand of the government forcing them to do so."

Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22): "President Trump and Administrator Wheeler continue to strike a needed balance that protects our environment without adding excessive rules and regulations on those who power our nation’s energy needs. As a longtime advocate of this action who joined my colleagues to request a review of this burdensome mandate, I welcome this decision."

Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02): "I applaud the Administration’s decision to amend the EPA Methane Rule. I have repeatedly attempted to prohibit funding to this job-killing regulation. It is counterproductive for the federal government to enact harmful regulations that cause inefficiencies, recklessly spend taxpayer dollars, and force hardships upon job-creating industries."

Congressman Kelly Armstrong (ND-At Large): "This is another example of the Trump Administration rolling back burdensome regulations that hindered economic and energy development while doing nothing to protect the environment. I applaud the President and the EPA for continuing their work to implement common sense regulatory reform that promotes energy development, contributes to national security, and creates jobs for hardworking Americans. This is good for the country, good for North Dakota, and will allow us to continue the energy dominance and independence that originally began right here in Bakken Shale formation."

Background:

Courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed amendments to the 2012 and 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry that would remove regulatory duplication and save the industry millions of dollars in compliance costs each year, while maintaining health and environmental protection from oil and gas sources that the Agency considers appropriate to regulate.

The proposed amendments would remove all sources in the transmission and storage segment of the oil and natural gas industry from regulation under the NSPS, both for ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and for greenhouse gases (GHGs). The existing NSPS regulates GHGs through limitations on emissions of methane.

The amendments also would rescind the methane requirements in the 2016 NSPS that apply to sources in the production and processing segments of the industry.

As an alternative, EPA also is proposing to rescind the methane requirements that apply to all sources in the oil and natural gas industry, without removing any sources from the current source category.

As part of today’s action, the Agency also is seeking comment on alternative interpretations of EPA’s legal authority to regulate pollutants under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act.

EPA’s regulatory impact analysis estimates that the proposed amendments would save the oil and natural gas industry $17-$19 million a year, for a total of $97-$123 million from 2019 through 2025.

Courtesy of the Congressional Western Caucus

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13783, directing federal agencies to review existing regulations and policies that potentially burden domestic energy production. The Executive Order specifically required the EPA to review the previous administration’s 2016 EPA Methane Rule.

This rule is unnecessary in the first place; given methane is a product this industry is in the business of selling, not wasting, but also because they’re duplicative, costly, and detrimental to our economy.

By EPA’s own numbers, methane emissions have decreased while production has increased over the same time period. In fact, innovation and technology improvements in the oil and gas industry are the main reason the U.S. was the world leader in emissions reductions in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

An amendment offered by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) to block funds for EPA's methane rule was attached to the FY 2019 Interior Appropriations bill and passed the House by a vote of 215-199.

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