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US EPA withdraws request for methane information from oil, gas companies

05 March 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing its request that oil and gas drillers provide regulators with information about methane emissions. "Today's action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry".

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.

"The burden of the request is disproportionate to its benefit, " the letter reads, citing an estimate from the EPA that put the cost of completing and responding to the survey at $1,100 to $5,800 for each company.

The new EPA administrator, however, has a different take.

The rule on methane emission reporting, part of efforts to combat climate change by reducing said emissions, was issued in a directive from the EPA in November past year.

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"Today, we are underscoring the [Obama] administration's commitment to finding commonsense ways to cut methane", former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said when the order was issued a year ago.

The decision to scrap the order once again highlights Pruitt's deep ties with fossil fuel industry leaders when he was Oklahoma's attorney general. Is the money saved going toward cleaning up our environment?

The justification for this directive was that the data would help the regulator develop regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions-methane is a much more powerful greenhouse agent than carbon monoxide, and the oil and gas industry is the biggest emitter of the gas.

The decision will hobble the EPA's ability to accurately calculate methane emissions in its annual tally of total US greenhouse gas emissions, which is provided to the United Nations to track America's progress in addressing climate change, said Danny Cullenward, an energy economist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. In 2014, the New York Times reported that Pruitt accused the EPA of overestimating the quantity of methane emissions the oil and gas industry emits - claims he made by using a letter written by lawyers for a large oil and gas company.

US EPA withdraws request for methane information from oil, gas companies