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The Environmental Protection Agency has removed an Obama-era rule that requires oil and gas companies to report methane emissions from oilfields – a rule that had prompted complaints from 11 oil and gas-producing states that argued it required too much work.
The EPA’s new boss, climate change skeptic and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said the change was effective immediately, adding he will go on to assess whether the additional information that EPA required from energy companies under its previous management is indeed necessary to collect.
Pruitt commented that the withdrawal of the methane emission reporting rule was part of the new EPA’s efforts to improve its relationship with state governments. Environmentalist groups were quick to condemn the move, arguing that under Pruitt, the EPA will turn into an organization serving the oil and gas industry. Pruitt was a vocal opponent to EPA’s regulations over the last eight years.
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 last year. Besides these reports, the directive also called on 15,000 oil and gas companies to report the numbers and types of equipment at their onshore production sites.
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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.
Some oil companies are already teaming up with tech developers to better manage the methane emissions at their fields. Besides the environmental benefits, this is financially justifiable as well. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental NPO focusing on curbing methane emissions, the U.S. oil and gas industry is losing US$2 billion annually in undetected methane leaks.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.