EPA working to rewrite methane rule
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.