Data raise questions about controversial Obama-era methane rule
A new review of federal data from Texans for Natural Gas highlights how the Obama Administration may have relied on inflated estimates of methane emissions to justify a controversial regulation, known as the Waste Prevention Rule. The rule was finalized by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in December 2016, just weeks before the Obama administration left office.
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) show that methane emissions from oil and gas activities have declined since 1990, and emissions from venting and flaring – the processes targeted by the Obama-era rule – are lower than what previous EPA assessments concluded.
Key findings in the review:
- Methane emissions from associated gas venting and flaring during petroleum production declined 17 percent between 2013 and 2016, even as domestic oil production increased by 19 percent.
- Methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas well completions declined 82 percent between 2013 and 2016.
- Methane emissions from petroleum production in the year 2014 (one of the last years of data available to the Obama administration) are nearly 50 percent lower than what the EPA published in Obama’s last year in office.
- EPA’s estimates for associated gas venting and flaring in 2015 are now 54 percent lower than what the agency estimated last year. Emissions estimates for prior years show even larger downward revisions.
- These lower emissions estimates could raise additional questions about controversial federal regulations targeting methane (CH4) from venting and flaring on federal lands.
“This new analysis confirms that methane emissions have declined even as the United States has turned into a global oil and gas superpower,” said Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas. “Curiously, the Obama administration used emissions data from the EPA to try to justify its 11th-hour venting and flaring rule, claiming those data were representative of what’s occurring on federal and Indian lands. But the EPA now says methane emissions are half of what they were when the BLM finalized this costly regulation. At the very least, this raises legitimate questions about the venting and flaring rule, in addition to the legal problems that are still being sorted out in court.”
Click here to read the full review.