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Letter

Inhofe Questions Obama Administration on Strategy to Reduce Methane

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today sent two letters to Mr. Dan Utech, special assistant to the president of the United States;  Gina McCarthy, administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator, Office of Air and Radiation at EPA, questioning recent EPA methane regulations for the oil and natural gas industry and the corresponding EPA methane white papers.  Both the regulations and white papers are part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan’s Strategy to Reduce Methane.

Letter on EPA methane regulations:

“On May 12, 2016, EPA finalized methane rules for new, modified, and reconstructed oil and gas systems, while simultaneously proposing a request for information from the industry to guide rules for existing oil and gas systems. What’s even more striking is that these mandates, as shown by the EPA’s own data, will produce no meaningful climate benefits,” Inhofe said in the letter.

“A more practical and sensible approach would be to empower states to continue their success in regulating methane emissions and managing environmental risks,” Inhofe continued.

Inhofe concluded the letter, “Before proceeding any further with the ‘Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions,’ or plans to regulate existing sources, I request the EPA answer the following critically important questions.”

 

Letter on EPA methane white papers:

“On September 3, 2014, I sent a letter to your respective offices expressing serious concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane white papers published in April 2014. Those white papers serve as the basis for the EPA’s climate change mandates on America’s oil and gas producers,” Inhofe said in the letter.

“More than 18 months have passed, and EPA has not sufficiently responded to my requests or made meaningful changes based on my concerns or those expressed by outside experts.  EPA appears intent on fulfilling an ideological goal to stop American energy production, and as a result the Agency fails to follow data quality, transparency, and public input requirements key to the regulatory process.  Accordingly, until EPA can thoroughly demonstrate a sound and consistent understanding of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, the Agency should halt any work on regulatory actions impacting this sector,” Inhofe concluded the letter.

To view the full text of the letter on methane regulations, click here.

To view the full text of the letter on EPA methane white papers, click here.

 

Background:

On May 20, Inhofe joined Sens. Vitter (R-La.), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), in a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy regarding the Agency’s revised methane emission estimates in its 2016 Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

On May 12, Inhofe released a statement on EPA’s final methane regulations for new, modified, and reconstructed oil and gas systems.

On April 13, Inhofe joined Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wy.) in sending a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule for waste prevention of methane emissions.

On April 13, Inhofe joined Lankford in sending a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the EPA’s social cost of methane estimates in its proposed rule for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

On March 10, Inhofe released a statement after the Obama administration announced a pact with Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, to reduce methane emissions from new and existing sources.

On Jan. 22, Inhofe released a statement after the Bureau of Land Management announcement proposing their new methane rule.

On Dec. 4, 2015, Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy raising concerns over EPA’s application of the social cost of the methane (SCM) in the EPA’s proposed rule for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

On Nov. 20, 2015, Inhofe wrote to McCarthy requesting EPA extend the public comment period to allow adequate review of EPA’s proposed methane rule along with a similar rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.

On Aug. 18, 2015, Inhofe released a statement on EPA’s proposed methane regulations to stifle the U.S. oil and gas industry.

On June 11, 2015, seven Senate EPW members sent a letter to President Obama regarding plans for regulating methane from the oil and gas sector, and specifically asked whether a social cost of methane estimate would be used in the expected rule.  The senate EPW committee has yet to receive a response.  EPA released the proposed rule on August 18, and it was published in the Federal Register on September 18.  EPA requested comments on the rule as well as the social cost of methane estimates.

On Sept. 3, 2014, Inhofe sent a letter to the Obama administration raising questions about its Methane Strategy White Papers, which formed the basis of today’s regulations. The administration has not sufficiently responded to this letter, nor has it conducted the requested review of existing regulations to determine how they might be relaxed to promote greater capture of methane emissions instead of issuing new regulations.

 

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