Vets4Energy: EPA's new methane rules 'intentionally' targeting jobs

Natural gas drilling operation
Natural gas drilling operation | Contributed photo
Regulators appear to be intentionally trying to put Americans out of work by piling on additional regulations on the oil and gas industry, a veterans group opposed to new rules to limit methane emissions said recently.

Fourteen states and several industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute (API), recently filed lawsuits challenging new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on methane emissions, asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on whether the agency is exceeding its statutory authority.

In a statement in support of the challenges, Vets4Energy’s national program director told American Security News that “excessive regulation decreases effectiveness.”

“Any veteran knows that excessive regulation decreases effectiveness,” Army Capt. James McCormick (retired) said. “The pile-on of additional regulations, especially unneeded ones that are already being addressed by the industry, makes it seem like they are intentionally trying to put Americans out of work and decrease our energy independence.”

Operation Desert Storm veteran McCormick, a recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star  and Purple Heart also said, "It feels as though our government is saying they’d prefer other less-caring countries to supply us with energy than allow us to do it ourselves.”

The rules, which affect new, reconstructed or modified oil and natural gas wells, will require companies to install technologies that monitor and limit inadvertent emission of methane during the production and transmission process, the EPA said. They also require companies to adopt new practices, including regular inspections for leaks.

The API lawsuit challenges the new regulations and the authority of the EPA to enforce them, arguing that the EPA may have exceeded its powers under the Clean Air Act.

“The industry continues to lead the way on emissions reductions because it is good for the environment and good for business,” API Managing Counsel John Wagner said in a statement issued after the filing of the suit.

“Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, carbon emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies. Greater use of clean, affordable natural gas has pushed carbon emissions from power generation to their lowest level in more than 20 years.”

West Virginia is leading a coalition of 14 states in their lawsuit, which calls the new regulations a "job-killing attack."

“This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach jeopardizing West Virginia jobs and working families," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. "The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry's success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low."

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has called the completed rules, which cover more wells and include more frequent inspections than initially proposed in August 2015, common sense.

“Today, we are underscoring the administration’s commitment to finding common-sense ways to cut methane — a potent greenhouse gas fueling climate change — and other harmful pollution from the oil and gas sector,” McCarthy said in unveiling the new regulations in May.

“Together these new actions will protect public health and reduce pollution linked to cancer and other serious health effects while allowing industry to continue to grow and provide a vital source of energy for Americans across the country," McCarthy said.

Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce methane emissions, the administration aims to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent, based on 2012 levels, by 2025.

“There is no reason to impose regulations on our nation's oil and gas sector when the industry is already voluntarily reducing methane emissions," said U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in a statement last May. "The fact remains that methane emissions from oil and gas systems are only a mere 3.5 percent of total domestic greenhouse gas emissions, yet this administration has undertaken at least five significant efforts aimed at punitively attacking this industry for a non-existent problem."

Inhofe said that, while oil and gas production has "skyrocketed 26 percent," methane emissions have been reduced by more than 40 percent between 2006 and 2012.

"This was done without any federal mandate and the industry continues to voluntarily develop new technologies and practices to improve on this trend," said Inhofe. "These costly mandates will hinder economic growth and job creation for no meaningful environmental benefit. EPA’s actions are politically driven, unnecessary, and geared solely toward getting these regulations out the door before President Obama leaves office.”

Organizations in this Story

American Petroleum Institute U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe Vets4Energy Virginia Attorney General's Office

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