EPA Announces Reconsideration of Oil And Gas Emissions Rule Targeted By Trump Executive Order
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday that it will reconsider a rule regulating methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector that was included in an executive order issued by the Trump White House last month to roll back the Obama administration’s climate agenda.
The rule, titled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources,” was finalized in 2016 and is currently being litigated before the D.C. Circuit Court. It includes a provision, known as “Subpart OOOOa” or “Quad Oa,” that addresses fugitive emissions from equipment and processes in the oil and natural gas industry and requires leak detection and repair programs.
“[B]y this letter the EPA is convening a proceeding for reconsideration of those fugitive emissions monitoring requirements,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a letter yesterday to groups that had petitioned the agency for reconsideration of the rule.
The American Petroleum Institute, the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the Independent Associations and the GPA Midstream Association petitioned the EPA last year to reconsider the rule, and specifically Quad Oa, citing technical challenges and prohibitive costs for implementation.
“Subpart OOOOa added a variety of requirements associated with ‘technical infeasibility’ that were not purposed or even mentioned in the proposed rule that increase the cost of compliance with disproportionally [sic] impacts on independent operators,” wrote trade associations, including those representing states like North Dakota and Oklahoma, in a joint petition to EPA last August
“GPA Midstream’s members have a strong economic interest in reducing methane emissions from their operations and have already taken significant voluntary efforts to reduce such emissions,” wrote GPA Midstream Vice President of Government Affairs Matt Hite in the organization’s petition to EPA last year.
In yesterday’s letter, Pruitt acknowledged that the provision on fugitive emissions was not part of the public comment period while the original rule was finalized.
“As part of the reconsideration process, the EPA will provide an opportunity for notice and comment on the issues raised in the petitions,” Pruitt continued.
The emissions rule is one of the regulations EPA is directed to review and potentially “suspend, revise, or rescind” by the executive order the Trump administration issued last month that will unwind many of the restrictions imposed by the Obama administration on the development of oil, natural gas and coal. The executive order was welcomed by officials in the nation’s energy sector as a victory for state authority over power grids and energy production.
“EPA is continuing to follow through with President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts and report back, before those new requirements are finalized.”