States Sue EPA Over Methane Emissions Rule

Thirteen U.S. states are suing the Obama administration over a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule limiting methane emissions at oil and natural gas sites, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin have joined West Virginia is suing over the rule. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality have also joined the lawsuit as well, The Hill reported.

Both Texas and North Dakota have challenged the EPA’s final rule. The Independent Petroleum Producers Association of American (IPAA) has also filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA’s regulations under the Clean Air Act, IPAA spokesperson Neal Kirby told Rigzone.

“Independent producers do not believe EPA has demonstrated their authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate methane from the oil and natural gas sector,” Kirby stated. “Additionally, we believe certain regulations are not cost-effective and are arbitrary and capricious.”

Energy industry groups previously have called EPA’s new regulations costly and unnecessary, saying that the oil and gas industry already reduced methane emissions through improvement in exploration and production methods.

IPAA and other U.S. energy industry groups have called on the EPA to work with industry on EPA’s proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) for oil and gas facilities. The ICR is part of the new rule on methane emissions, unveiled by the EPA earlier this year to reduce emissions from oil and gas operations.

IPAA, the American Exploration & Production Council and 47 other U.S. oil and gas trade associations reported Tuesday that they have submitted comments to the EPA, outlining their concerns over the proposed ICR. The groups stated that EPA needs a better understanding of the industry, including the declining nature of oil and gas wells. The groups pointed to comments by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at this year’s IHS CERAWeek Conference, who stated that EPA is still learning the oil and gas industry because it’s an industry that EPA has not previously regulated, as evidence of EPA’s need for greater understanding of the industry. EPA also needs to learn from existing agency resources and resources that are publicly available from state agencies, the groups said in an Aug. 2 press statement.

While the ICR process can provide EPA with the understanding it needs to be a fair and effective regulator, its current form creates additional paperwork for companies to produce to EPA and adds unnecessary burdens on companies’ technical teams to prepare and submit rushed comments under enormous time constraints, the groups said in the press release.


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