Published: Sun, March 05, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

EPA scraps rule requiring oilwell operators to provide information on methane emissions

EPA scraps rule requiring oilwell operators to provide information on methane emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is near reversing an Obama administration decision to lock in future stringent vehicle fuel-economy and emission standards after auto makers lobbied the agency's new chief to reopen a review of the regulations, said people familiar with the matter.

The action comes after the agency received a letter sent by the attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states complaining that the information request "furthers the previous administration's climate agenda and supports the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous".

The EPA withdrew both parts of the information request.

Oil and gas wells, pipelines and other equipment leak a large, but not fully understood, quantity of methane into the atmosphere.

US President Donald Trump will oversee a massive overhaul of the Environmental Protection Agency's funding, with the total budget for the regulatory body to be cut by 25%, and a key climate protection programme to lose 70% of its funding.

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The States joined with Texas on the letter are: Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi (through its governor), Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Yesterday the EPA withdrew its request in response to a March 1 letter from nine state attorneys general and the governors of MS and Kentucky.

"By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states", said EPA administrator Pruitt.

"Today's action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry", he announced.

Pruitt has long put the interests of the oil and gas industry over the needs of the public, and as Oklahoma's attorney general, he even joined the unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn the EPA's Chesapeake Bay pollution goals. "The EPA's request, directed only to oil and gas producers, is clearly more harassment than an actual search for pertinent information".

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