Trump EPA Rescinds Burdensome Obama Climate Change Methane Leak Regulations

epa

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Much wailing from greens and big business, as President Trump’s EPA prioritises the economy, cutting red tape for small businesses and boosting US jobs over Obama era methane climate scares.

News Releases from Headquarters›Air and Radiation (OAR)

In Pittsburgh, Administrator Wheeler Announces Final Air Regulations for Oil and Gas Removing Redundant Requirements, Streamlining Implementation, and Reducing Burdens 

08/13/2020Contact Information: EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov

PITTSBURGH (August 13, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced two final rules for the oil and natural gas industry that removes ineffective and duplicative requirements while streamlining others. He made this announcement at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Mark W. Menezes, U.S. Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), and EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.

These rulemakings will reduce regulatory burdens for oil and natural gas entities while protecting human health and the environment. Combined, the two final rules are estimated to yield net benefits of $750 to $850 million dollars from 2021 to 2030, the annualized equivalent of about $100 million a year. These final rules combined with other deregulatory actions have saved Americans an estimated $94 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs.

“EPA has been working hard to fulfill President Trump’s promise to cut burdensome and ineffective regulations for our domestic energy industry,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Regulatory burdens put into place by the Obama-Biden Administration fell heavily on small and medium-sized energy businesses. Today’s regulatory changes remove redundant paperwork, align with the Clean Air Act, and allow companies the flexibility to satisfy leak-control requirements by complying with equivalent state rules.”

“I applaud Administrator Wheeler for taking decisive action today and continuing to replace the destructive and burdensome bureaucratic policies of the Obama Administration with commonsense policies,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “I am proud to join the Administrator in Pennsylvania, a state that will greatly benefit from these actions taken by the EPA today. These new rules will provide relief to American energy companies by reducing the massive cost of complying with unnecessary overregulation from the federal government, allowing them to instead spend their resources on job creation and energy development.”

“As someone born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, I have seen firsthand the impact of the natural gas renaissance on our communities, including tremendous job creation and unprecedented wage growth,” said U.S. Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). “The rules announced today by Administrator Wheeler will remove burdensome regulations while continuing to provide for cleaner and healthier air. Thank you to the Trump Administration for taking action and for their longstanding commitment to supporting Pennsylvania gas and oil operators, fighting for American energy independence, and fostering economic opportunities for workers and families.”

Today’s announcement is in response to President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The order directed EPA to review, and if appropriate revise, the 2016 Oil and Natural Gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to ensure that the rule did not burden the development or use of domestically produced oil and natural gas.

The first rule, referred to as the “policy package,” determines that the Obama EPA’s addition of the transmission and storage segment was improper and removes it from the regulation while also rescinding emissions standards for that segment. The policy package also makes clear that oil and gas operators will still be required to reduce emissions of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the production and processing segment of the industry. The rule removes methane control requirements for the production and processing segments, because the pollution controls used to reduce VOC emissions also reduce methane emissions, making clear that the separate regulation of methane imposed by the 2016 rule was both improper and redundant.

In addition, the policy package establishes EPA’s position that the Clean Air Act requires EPA to make a finding that a pollutant contributes significantly to air pollution before setting NSPS requirements. The Obama EPA failed to properly make that finding for methane emissions from the production and processing segments, which is a second reason why the package removes those requirements.

The second rule, referred to as the “technical package” includes commonsense changes to the NSPS that will directly benefit smaller oil and gas operators who rely on straightforward regulatory policy to run their businesses and provide Americans with reliable, affordable energy.

More specifically, the rule:

·         Exempts low-production wells from expending significant funds to monitor leaks (leaks are called “fugitive emissions” in the rule). These low-producing wells are usually owned and operated by small businesses that do not have the same access to capital as larger companies. This change respects the differences between wells that produce large amounts of oil per day and those that produce less than 15 barrels a day of oil instead of treating them the same.

  • Reduces monitoring of leaks at gathering and boosting compressor stations from quarterly to twice a year a more cost-effective approach that also aligns with other monitoring requirements.
  • Improves cooperation with states by allowing industry to meet certain states’ requirements instead of complying with EPA’s requirements. This change means that owners and operators in those states only have to comply with one set of regulations.
  • Removes burdens to utilize new and more efficient emissions reductions technologies to allow industry to innovate.
  • Updates the required schedule for repairing leaks to respect the realities of the oil and gas industry, such as allowing repair deferral if a repair within 30-days is not technically feasible.
  • Changing recordkeeping and removing certain convoluted reporting requirements, reducing the cost burden by an estimated 25 percent per site.; and
  • Other technical changes that will simplify compliance.

More information, including pre-publication versions of the Federal Register notices and related fact sheets, is available at https://www.epa.gov/controlling-air-pollution-oil-and-natural-gas-industry

Background

EPA announced the proposed technical fixes on September 11, 2018. The Agency received more than 500,000 public comments during a 60-day comment period, including at a public hearing in Denver. On August 29, 2019, EPA announced the proposed policy package, which received nearly 300,000 public comments during a 60-day public comment period, including at a public hearing in Dallas.

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

Source: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/pittsburgh-administrator-wheeler-announces-final-air-regulations-oil-and-gas-removing

Greens and big business are not happy about the changes.

Energy Companies Set to Get Reprieve on Methane Rules

Plan to end Obama-era regulations is likely to draw protests from environmental groups

Rescinding these requirements was a priority for small-and midsized oil-and-gas producers, which say the requirements were so costly to meet that it would be unprofitable to drill in some places.

But larger producers, including international giants Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch ShellPLC and BP PLC, favored retaining the rules, saying a lack of climate regulation undermines their promise that the U.S. natural gas they sell is a cleaner source of energy.

Several states and environmental groups are likely to fight the decision. Basil Seggos, commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, reacted to The Wall Street Journal’s article on Twitter, saying his agency would challenge the new rule. The Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit that has often collaborated with major oil companies on reducing methane emissions, warned that the rule changes would create a risk for U.S. gas sales into Europe, which is moving to tighten laws on greenhouse-gas emissions.

“The Trump EPA’s methane rollbacks aren’t just bad climate policy, they’re a competitive disadvantage for American gas in a world demanding cleaner energy,” said Ben Ratner, a senior director at the fund who works with companies on methane reduction. “For EPA to wipe out methane regulation makes a risky situation even worse for U.S. companies counting on exports.”

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/energy-companies-set-to-get-reprieve-on-methane-rules-11567051201

You can understand the wailing from greens, but why would big business oppose a rollback of red tape?

I guess it is possible big businesses genuinely care about the environment more than small business, but another possible explanation is excessive red tape helps big businesses maintain their market dominance, not through being the best at what they do or offering customers a better deal, but by creating barriers which make it difficult for smaller businesses to compete.

As a businessman, all too often I have seen cases where small businesses, if they get an opportunity to operate at all, are forced to share their profits with larger businesses in return for administrative cover; in return for access to big business’ ability to handle excessive red tape.

Forced sharing of profits and management oversight in return for protection from bureaucrats stifles innovation, and dramatically shifts the balance of economic power in favour of big business, to the detriment of customers who might have benefited from a little more competition. Big businesses frequently demand small businesses which enter into such arrangements avoid doing anything which cuts into the profits of their overseer business, such as undercutting their prices.

By cutting red tape in such a key economic activity, President Trump has signalled once again that he wants to liberate the US economy from bureaucrats and stagnant red tape driven cartels, so anyone with an ounce of initiative can share in the USA’s great opportunities by offering customers the best possible deal.

58 thoughts on “Trump EPA Rescinds Burdensome Obama Climate Change Methane Leak Regulations

  1. The Democrat’s party platform for the Biden/Harris campaign platform on the Climate Scam and enviroment though has specific language in it to reverse this. It promises if the Democrats take the White House there will be a return to a very burdensome natural gas regulatory regime via Clean Air Act regulations for methane leaks, and to use Clean Water Act rules to return to WOTUS nonsense to stop fracking waste water.

    When you get into the platform wording, you realize they know they can’t outright ban natuiral gas or fracking used to develop the well. What they intend to do is lay-dow a heavy-handed regulatory regime on both to make it completely unprofitable for new drilling ventures to proceed and impose higher costs to those in existence to drive up natural gas prices. Make it very expensive to deal with frack waste water disposal, make chasing down gas leaks very expensive.

    They can’t run the Green Slime’s wind and solar energy shakedown schemes on people’s electric bills while natural gas prices remain so low. The economics come into play. The power operators and grid operators will use whatever is most affordable.

  2. Absolutely fantastic, we certainly need more methane in the atmosphere. I hope Trump can liberate us from Mercury regulations too. What a glorious future. Who would have thought that the EPA, is now the “more pollution for you” agency. WUWT reders will no doubt rejoice at the prospect of a galaxy of new and old pollutants the EPA can serve us up.

      • Eric Worrall August 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm
        Methane is lighter than air, so it doesn’t remain a problem for long.

        It isn’t a problem period. Please stop buying in to left-wing propaganda!

          • Eric,
            Wow! Indeed. Methane is in the atmosphere at about 1850 ppb and is increasing about 6.5 ppb every year. It should reach about 2300 ppb by 2100 and as such it won’t represent any problem that I know of. It’s greenhouse effect by then would represent an increase of less than 0.1°C or essentially nothing. If you have different information, I’d like to know what it is.
            Best regards
            Steve

          • Steve, us this hypothetical.01 C increase based on the total theoretical increase from when to 2100?

    • Yes and we ALSO need more unicorn regulations too. Unicorn feces are a major problem everywhere you turn. The reason unicorns and their feces are such a problem is you can’t see it, or smell. As a result everyone is stepping it and tracking it everywhere. The streets and parks are filled with this invisible, odorless nuisance.

      So we need a unicorn tax to help start solving this problem. Send the money to me, and I promise I’ll fix this.

      • Joel you raving loon! Your unicorn feces tax will lead to the extinction of several billion sub-species of unicorn per week, according to a recent EurekAlert! press release, and ultimately deprive America of the promise of cheap abundant carbon free energy! The loss of high-paying jobs alone will be devastating. You apparently don’t understand that unicorn-derived energy is only as incredibly low cost as it is, due to the millions and billions of formerly destitute people who are employed in high-paying jobs to produce this practically free energy source. Learn some economics, will ya?

        Thankfully the Europeans and the Brits (who have always been so much smarter and sophisticated than us rubes across the Pond) have transcended rationality and will continue to vigorously protect these noble creatures from the ravages that the orange abomination and his minions seek to inflict!

      • You can’t flush unicorn poo with a 6 litre cistern. You need a full 9 litre flush, only available after the repeal of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

    • Actually , the Atlantic rift belches out massive volumes of methane from time to time. Any carbon life form that dies and rots in an anaerobic environment releases methane. From mangrove swamps to rice paddies to stinky compost bins in the back garden. Methane molecules are broken down in direct sunlight particularly near the equator and the atoms rebond with oxygen to produce CO2 and H2O.

      • Forests produce huge amounts of methane. There is a cloud of methane hanging over all tropical forests, so great is the volume produced by rotting biomass.

        It is converted to CO2 by sunlight. That’s why there is so precious little in the atmosphere in spite of the enormous volume released each year.

    • Why is it that the trolls, to a man/person, always assume that all regulations must be good, and that anyone who opposes one regulation must necessarily oppose all regulations?

    • TONY, tell me you know that methane makes up under 2 parts per billion vol. of the atmosphere. Now, you may be more comfortable with measures of climate that use units like Olympic-sized swimming pools of sea level rise, number of Manhattans for areas of broken ice shelves and number of “Hiroshimas” of added heat. So, the distance to the sun from earth is 150 billion meters. Two parts per billion of the total distance is therefore 3 football field lengths, less than a two minute walk, i.e. a one minute walk is 1 part per billion of the distance to the sun. Pace it off to give yourself a feeling for the magnitude.

  3. … liberate the US economy from bureaucrats and stagnant red tape driven cartels …

    So, the Malthusians think we’re going to run out of important resources and the resulting economic collapse will drive us back into the stone age.

    Buckminster Fuller countered that, because of improving technology and innovation, we are doing more and more with less and less.

    So far, Buckminster Fuller has been right. We do have a tiger by the tail though. If the improvement in technology and innovation falters, we’re in deep doggie doo.

    Excess red tape is actually an existential problem. It threatens our very existence. Literally.

    In light of the above, President Trump can be viewed as the savior of humanity.

  4. COVID-19 and the lockdown demonstrate that if you want to fund better health, better security, better jobs, better lives you need a strong economy and one way to do that is to not tie both it’s hands and feet together behind it’s back.

  5. Single largest source of CH4 is termites. Second largest are forests. In any case, at ~1.8ppm/v it does nothing of any significance to the climate.

  6. Meanwhile cities in California and a few other places around the country are banning natural gas hook-ups in new construction. One can imagine that upon selling existing homes removing gas hook-ups will become mandatory in the near future. A complete ban on residential gas is on the horizon. An all electric wind and solar powered world is being jammed down our collective throats.

      • And they are fools. A lot burn NG to make electricity and then ship it to houses to heat. A massively inefficient process.

      • There are already some EU states which ban natural gas in new construction

        Regulation based on incomplete information. It seems that policy makers never ask the question, “How much is methane projected to run up global temperature?” I’ve never seen an answer to that question, have you?

      • And it’s coming to the UK 2025. Next step is to remove central heating systems in houses that already have it, so we can all die in the dark of hypothermia when the solar panels and windmills fail in winter. Why not volunteer to take yours out now grief, so you can beat the rush to the cemetery.

        • Come come! Be reasonable now. Surely by 2025 there will be palm trees growing in Aberdeen. No risk of freezing. Your concern should be for the killing heat waves in July.

          Checking the weather forecast for London, it appears that some time next week it may reach an oppressive 24C. Please take care to drink plenty of fluids and avoid any exertion!

      • There are already some EU states which ban natural gas in new construction

        Their stupidity is nothing to be proud of.

  7. You can understand the wailing from greens, but why would big business oppose a rollback of red tape?

    Your explanation is the correct one. Big business owns the green movement. Which they disguise by leading the faux attack on ‘big oil’.

    As long as regulations is applied across the board, it favours big business, who can afford to meet it, and suppresses the little guys. In the EU regulation is the new marketing. Regulation and discriminatory taxation and subsidy is forcing obsolescence. We must, after having dumped petrol for diesel, now dump diesel, and go petrol, then dump that and go hybrid – because environment.

    Look at renewable energy. Has it actually affected sales of gas or oil? Nope. Not one iota. Renewable energy needs just as much gas to fill in the gaps as no renewable energy.

    So what is a threat to traditional gas interests ? Nuclear. Coal. Fracking.

    What do the Greens oppose? Nuclear. Coal. Fracking.

    Cui bono

    Oil? we don’t use oil in electrical power generation anyway, it’s for transport off the grid.
    So what about BEVS? well where are they going to get electricity from? Renewables? Don’t make me laugh.
    Gas.

    So instead of relatively efficient diesels or gasoline engines using higher priced and scarce oil we will end up burning cheaper natural gas in about the same quantities.

    The car companies are looking forward to massive profits.

    The real question is how long, even with massive bank and government support, we can carry on kicking the consumerism can down the road.

    I have an adage: Leo’s Law.:
    It is about three to fifteen years before any political organisation gets infiltrated and bought out by the people it tried to warn you about.

    I mean why on earth wouldn’t they?

  8. Well the first part simply removes double counting so it simply fixing EPA mistakes.

    The second part is truly stupid, though we are talking stupid anyway.
    “Reduces monitoring of leaks at gathering and boosting compressor stations from quarterly to twice a year a more cost-effective approach that also aligns with other monitoring requirements.”

    It is quite inexpensive to monitor these emissions in real time. Only requiring quarterly was already bad enough. Many small stations are in built up areas or close to such.

  9. Leo Smith.That is as good a description of what’s going on as you can get.In all cases,at the top of the various “trees” just “follow the money”

  10. Interesting that SpaceX’s Elon Musk just made a good case for Methane fuel for his rocket fleet.
    Great interview here : A conversation with Elon Musk about Starship
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIQ36Kt7UVg
    Since 2012 the Raptor engine is methalox.

    Some think that synthetic methane production on Mars could fuel a return trip. That’s still at the skunk-works.

  11. These rollbacks, while a good start, don’t go nearly far enough. The EPA has been usurping powers for decades, making it an extra-constitutional arm of the government. It should be defunded and defanged.

    • The EPA should be shuttered and all environmental regulation returned to the states, where it belongs. Any conflicts between states can be settled in Federal Courts.

      With 50 approaches to regulation, we’ll quickly see what works. And with no centralized power, the greens/progressives have no target to seize tyrannical control.

  12. Many of the EPA regs for water and wastewater take into account how affordable and practicable it would be for the small systems to meet the same standards to which large systems are held.
    Why shouldn’t the same hold true for small and large businesses?

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