The EPA’s action almost guarantees a legal challenge by environmental groups.
During the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aggressively pursued policies designed to improve air quality by regulating and reducing pollution caused by the production and use of fossil fuels.
According to an Associated Press article by David Koenig and Michael Biesecker, reprinted in enr.com, these regulations, which were scheduled to go into effect in June this year, would require “oil and gas companies to follow a new rule requiring them to monitor and reduce methane leaks from their facilities.”
The rule has been vehemently opposed by the leaders of the oil and gas industry. They contend that compliance will make “many low-production wells unprofitable.”
Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the EPA announced recently that there will be a delay in implementing the rule for 90 days to provide oil and gas companies an opportunity to comment on them. “’American businesses should have the opportunity to review new requirements, assess economic impacts, and report back, before those new requirements are finalized’ Pruitt said in a statement.”
The announcement generated an immediate firestorm of opposition from environmentalists. “’Rolling back these rules benefits the worst actors in the business, at the expense of both responsible companies and ordinary everyday Americans,’ said Mark Brownstein, spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund.”
Legal action to prevent the rescinding of the Obama-era methane regulations is almost a certainty. This could place the both the implementation of the original rules and the actions ordered by Mr. Pruitt on hold, putting oil and gas companies in the unenviable position of not knowing what is required to comply with the law during what may be a long period of litigation.
EPA Sec. Pruitt Delays Rule on Methane Leaks at Behest of Oil and Gas Industry, David Koenig and Michael Biesecker, Associated Press reprinted in enr.com, April 4, 2017.