EPA Begins Dismantling of Obama’s Methane Rules

Led by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started the process of undoing the Obama administration’s rules on methane gas emissions.

In announcing the recent actions, the EPA said the moves were being made to reduce costs and regulatory “burdens” imposed on the oil and natural gas industry.

The EPA said the two actions would reduce “significant and immediate compliance concerns” for the industry, while reducing “burdens” on state environmental agencies and saving millions of dollars in compliance costs.

The new air pollution chief at the EPA, Bill Wehrum said the agency will likely take future action to totally dismantle the methane regulations. And that includes whether emissions from oil wells should be regulated in the first place.

“The technical amendments to the 2016 oil and gas [new source rule] are meant to alleviate targeted regulatory compliance issues faced by affected sources,” Wehrum said. “While this action addresses an immediate need, it does not deter the ongoing work at the agency to assess the 2016 rule as a whole, including whether it is prudent or necessary to directly regulate methane.”

The first of the two actions taken Thursday includes two amendments to the fugitive emissions requirements under the rule for oil and natural gas wells.