In a move that the EPA says will reduce burdens on businesses, oil and gas drillers are no longer required to respond to an earlier EPA request for information about equipment and emissions at existing oil wells.
Yesterday the EPA withdrew its request in response to a March 1 letter from nine state attorneys general and the governors of Mississippi and Kentucky. The letter asked the agency to cancel the information request, arguing that the methane rule represents an “enormous” cost for oil and gas operators and offers little benefit.
“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.”
In May the Obama administration finalized regulations limiting methane emissions at new drilling wells. Simultaneously, the agency was developing regulations to limit methane releases from existing oil and gas wells. Its information request — sent to more than 15,000 owners and operators in the oil and gas industry — was the initial step in writing the rule for existing wells.
The information request comprised of two parts: an “operator survey” that asked for basic information on the numbers and types of equipment at all onshore oil and gas production facilities in the US, and a “facility survey” asking for more detailed information on sources of methane emissions and emission control devices or practices in use by a representative sampling of facilities in several segments of the oil and gas industry.
The EPA withdrew both parts of the information request.
The move comes as the Trump administration has taken steps in recent days to undo many of the environmental regulations approved by the Obama administration. Trump has said the environmental regulations imposed under his predecessor are “out of control.”