Just as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gets ready to finalize costly methane regulations on the oil and gas industry, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted at the CERA Week conference in Houston last week that EPA doesn’t actually understand the industry it means to regulate.
As Administrator McCarthy put it,
“My caveat is that EPA’s learning this industry right now because it’s not an industry we regulate. We’ve just gotten into regulation of this so there’s a lot of hundreds of thousands of small sources and EPA doesn’t generally have a relationship with this industry as we do other sectors that we’ve regulated for frankly decades. But we’re learning.” (emphasis added)
To watch Administrator McCarthy’s full remarks, click here.
As EPA just begins to learn about the issue, we’d like to point out that the most recent peer-reviewed studies and some of the best data available – including data from the Environmental Defense Fund and EPA’s most recent draft Greenhouse Gas Inventory – show that methane emissions from natural gas development are already well below the threshold (3.2 percent “leakage” rate) at which scientists believe natural gas may lose its greenhouse gas advantage.
EPA may also wish to consult the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has said that even accounting for methane emissions, natural gas, brought about by fracking, is an “important reason” for the United States’ significant decline in emissions.
EPA claims that it is regulating methane to mitigate climate change, yet natural gas is the reason the United States has achieved dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases – and EPA’s regulations could end up stifling that climate progress.
Looks like EPA’s got a lot of learning to do.