Wednesday, 19 February, 2020

U.S. proposing easing rules on climate-changing oil emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposed rule that could roll back requirements on detecting and plugging methane leaks at oil and gas facilities U.S. proposing easing rules on climate-changing oil emissions
Sandy Nunez | 30 August, 2019, 10:04

The Trump administration proposed on Thursday to loosen emission control of methane, one of the greenhouse gases that resulted in global warming.

The Environmental Protection Agency's move would be the latest in a series by the administration easing Obama-era emissions controls on the oil, gas and coal industries, including from methane leaks.

Environmental advocates expected the new methane plan to go further than previous proposals, with a goal of exempting companies from requirements to detect and stop methane leaks at existing oil and gas sites.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a longtime backer of oil and gas and a former EPW Committee chairman, was slightly more forceful in his praise for the Trump administration's proposal.

The removal of methane emissions caps would, however, save the oil and natural gas sector $17-$19 million per year ($97-$123 million by 2025), the EPA estimates, or about 0.07% of the USA industry's $28 billion net income for 2018.

Just as important, according to an EPA document obtained by The Washington Post, the proposal will challenge the agency's earlier position that the federal government has the authority to regulate methane without first making a determination that it qualifies as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

The agency said that existing regulations potentially "burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources", including oil and natural gas.

Trump administration tightens citizenship rules for children of U.S. military overseas
Those include children born overseas to USA citizens who have lived in the United States at some time in the previous five years. Acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli said the new policy does not affect people who were born and raised in the United States.

The move is President Donald Trump's latest easing of rules created to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including many put forth by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

BP's recent exit from Alaska is symbolic of the current trend in the oil industry, as major players "retreat from traditional strongholds", Liam Denning writes in a Bloomberg op-ed. The agency also said it will hold a public hearing on the proposal at a time and in a place yet to be announced.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not public, said Trump officials were confident the oil and gas industry had an economic incentive to limit methane because capturing it allows companies to sell more gas.

An October analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that Trump's plans to roll back emissions targets for vehicles will cause up to 299 premature deaths each year by the middle of the 21st century. He added that continued regulation of volatile organic compounds will also help keep methane emissions down.

"The oil and natural gas industry is laser-focused on cutting methane emissions through industry initiatives, smart regulations, new technologies, and best practices", API's Vice President of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito, said in a statement. The administration claims the regulations stifle the innovation and progress of natural gas producers. It would also rescind emissions limits on methane from the production and processing steps.

The EPA's proposal is open for comment for 60 days after its published in the Federal Register.