EPA work­ing to re­write meth­ane rule

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - FUEL FIX - By James Os­borne james.os­borne@chron.com twit­ter.com/os­borneja

WASHINGTON — The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is mov­ing ahead on rewrit­ing a meth­ane reg­u­la­tion op­posed by the oil and gas in­dus­try af­ter a fed­eral ap­pel­late court blocked the agency from de­lay­ing the rule for as long as two years.

Of­fi­cials from the agency be­gan tak­ing tes­ti­mony in a pub­lic hear­ing last week as they made their first steps to­ward the ex­pected roll­back of the reg­u­la­tion signed by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. The rule aims to re­duce meth­ane emis­sions from oil and gas drilling, which the in­dus­try op­poses as costly and un­nec­es­sary.

On Mon­day, ac­tivists and in­dus­try of­fi­cials gave tes­ti­mony on why the reg­u­la­tion should or should not be amended.

“We live un­der the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of meth­ane pol­lu­tion in the U.S., and it’s proven to come from oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion sites,” Emily Bowie of Colorado said. “The idea that EPA would turn a blind eye to the truth and will­ingly put peo­ple in my com­mu­nity at risk on the whims and de­sires of in­dus­try is un­ac­cept­able.”

Howard Feld­man, se­nior direc­tor for reg­u­la­tory and sci­en­tific af­fairs at the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute, coun­tered: “EPA’s 2016 rule failed to ac­count for all of the costs associated with the fi­nal rule re­quire­ments and did not pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit. The last thing we need are more du­plica­tive and costly reg­u­la­tions that could in­crease the cost of en­ergy.”

The meth­ane reg­u­la­tion was sched­uled to go into ef­fect in June, but EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt or­dered a 90-day de­lay that he tried to ex­tend two years be­fore en­vi­ron­men­tal groups sued.

The Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Washington re­cently ruled Pruitt’s de­lay was “un­rea­son­able,” “ar­bi­trary” and “capri­cious,” or­der­ing EPA to en­force the rule while it goes through the process of rewrit­ing it.

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