By Tim Pearce
The Obama administration relied on flawed data while crafting regulations meant to limit emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Texans for Natural Gas (TNG), an oil and gas interest group, reviewed the latest methane emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) overestimated the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere from oil activity before finalizing its 2016 Waste Prevention Rule, TNG found.
“This new analysis confirms that methane emissions have declined even as the United States has turned into a global oil and gas superpower,” TNG spokesman Steve Everley said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Curiously, the Obama administration used emissions data from the EPA to try to justify its 11th-hour venting and flaring rule, claiming those data were representative of what’s occurring on federal and Indian lands.”
The rule limits venting and flaring, the controlled release or burning off excess gas for safety purposes, on federal land. Companies often release or burn valuable natural gas because the construction of gas pipelines gas is held up in the approval process necessary to build across federal land, according to TNG.
Since 1990, methane emissions from oil and gas activity have been decreasing. From 2013 to 2016, methane emissions from venting and flaring fell 17 percent at the same time domestic oil production grew by 19 percent, the EPA found and recorded in its latest, 655-page Greenhouse Gas Inventory report.
Emissions from hydraulically fractured oil wells declined by 82 percent in the three years between 2013 and 2016. The emissions numbers for 2015, the year before the Obama-era regulation on venting and flaring was finalized, were revised down in the latest EPA study by 53 percent, according to TNG’s review.
“The EPA now says methane emissions are half of what they were when the BLM finalized this costly regulation,” Everley said. “At the very least, this raises legitimate questions about the venting and flaring rule, in addition to the legal problems that are still being sorted out in court.”
The Trump administration tried to postpone the rule’s implementation, but courts stopped the attempt. The state of California sued the Department of the Interior on July 5 for trying to delay the rule.
“President Trump should put the health of the American people over the profits of private companies,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “This is a commonsense rule that both helps our children breathe cleaner air and protects our planet. It should be implemented as is legally required. We refuse to let blatant violations of the law go unchallenged.”
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