Since March, the Obama administration has been looking to impose new regulations on methane emissions as part of its crusade against global warming. But it looks like the White House is putting its climate plans on hold until after the November elections.
Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to look into possible new regulations for methane emissions and ordered the Interior Department to ready new rules for flaring methane from oil and gas production on federal lands. But the public won’t see either of these agencies act on methane emissions until after the election next month, according to a tip received by Marcellus Drilling News.
MDN said it “received an email alert from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) about this very issue” which said the “EPA (and the Bureau of Land Management) … will unveil devastating new regulations AFTER the November elections.”
“Of course the president is going to delay this rule. It’s the next step of his effort to put the oil and gas industry out of business,” Oklahoma Republican Se. James Inhofe told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Democrats face tough races in key oil and gas states across the country. According to RealClearPolitics, polls suggest that Alaska, Colorado and Louisiana all “lean GOP” and could see their Democratic incumbents without a job next year. Arkansas, another key energy state with a competitive election, has the GOP ahead in the polls.
These regulations will hurt industry in Arkansas, Louisiana, and everywhere else there is oil and gas activity, and if he were to put these regulations out before the election, they’d hurt his chances of keeping the Senate in Democrat control.
Inhofe has been tracking the EPA’s progress on crafting potential new methane rules. The senator recently criticized the agency for releasing a series of white papers on methane emissions which, he argued, made dubious assumptions about the industry and the government’s ability to make it more efficient.
“The president’s true agenda will be revealed after the election,” Inhofe said. “With no electoral consequences remaining for him, he will set his crosshairs on the oil and gas industry with ever tighter regulations that threaten the health of our economy.”
The U.S. is in the midst of an energy boom due mainly to the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling. These techniques have allowed drillers to unlock vast underground shale reserves and caused the U.S. to become the world’s largest liquid fuels producer.
But a byproduct of oil and gas production from shale has been methane, which companies often flare off into the atmosphere. Environmentalists argue this practice will cause more global warming since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Eco-activists want to see stricter regulations put on methane flaring.
We urge you and your administration to build on this legacy by announcing enforceable national methane emissions standards for new and existing oil and gas sources this fall. The oil and gas industry needs to be held to the same federal environmental standards as other major industries while we work as a nation to swiftly transition to a clean energy economy.
But the EPA has so far not committed to whether or not it will craft new regulations or expand voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions. The agency expects to make an announcement later this fall on whether or not it will move to regulate methane.
An EPA spokeswoman told TheDCNF:
EPA is carrying out its work under the Methane Strategy issued by the White House in March. Having released a series of technical ‘white papers’ addressing volatile organic compound and methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and received public and expert comment on those papers, the Agency is now evaluating a full range of policy options for further action as identified in the Methane Strategy and expects to provide information on future actions later in the Fall.
This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.