Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced at Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center on Thursday that the EPA will remove “ineffective and duplicative” regulations on oil and natural gas companies.
The announcement adheres to President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order on promoting energy independence and economic growth, which states “[i]t is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”
“These rulemakings will reduce regulatory burdens for oil and natural gas entities while protecting human health and the environment,” said the EPA’s press release. The EPA hopes that the reduction of these regulations will produce economic prosperity equivalent to $800 million.
The new policy package chiefly removes methane control requirements and streamlines existing regulations concerning monitoring and repairing leaks, promoting interstate cooperation, and tracking record-keeping. “[These changes] remove burdens to utilize new and more efficient emissions reductions technologies to allow industry to innovate,” said the press release.
In July Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf introduced a bill to the state legislature for the purpose of increasing regulations on oil and gas wells and the hydraulic fracking industry. Wolf’s bill was influenced by an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) study that revealed that Pennsylvania leaked seven times more methane in 2017 than state regulatory agencies reported. “Eliminating [methane regulations] would ignore the overwhelming body of scientific evidence documenting the urgent need to reduce methane pollution,” said Peter Zalzal, lead attorney for the EDF. “Major oil and gas producing companies … support retaining and strengthening methane safeguards.”
Some politicians and regulators have voiced their support for the EPA’s new rollback of methane regulations. “The rules announced today by Administrator Wheeler will remove burdensome regulations while continuing to provide for cleaner and healthier air,” said Congressman Guy Reschenthaler in the EPA’s press release. “Thank you to the Trump Administration for … fostering economic opportunities for workers and families.”