The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Not Too Fast, EPA

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 26, 2011

Take more time, EPA. Take more time. Proposed emissions rules related to oil and natural gas development should be carefully crafted, with proper input from affected parties. That's the message from industry, which otherwise will have to scramble to respond constructively to EPA's proposal.

Simply put, the oil and natural gas industry needs more time to tell EPA what it thinks of emissions rules that will affect drilling, producing and transporting oil and natural gas, including hydraulic fracturing operations. As things stand, the period for public comments on the rules expires at the end of next month. Industry would like a 60-day extension after that. Howard Feldman, API's director of regulatory and scientific affairs:

"We do not oppose rules to help manage upstream emissions, but we are concerned that, unless properly crafted, they could hamper our ability to meet the nation's energy needs. ... We have questions about whether we're going to get workable, practical rules that do not obstruct development. Part of the problem is timeline. The proposal is expansive and complex. It includes a set of five interconnected rules, spanning over 100 pages in the Federal Register with many times that number of pages of supplemental analyses and materials. Preparing comments on any one of these rules would be a challenge within 60 days. Preparing thorough and meaningful comments on all five within 60 days is not reasonable or practicable."

Feldman said industry supports "green" or low-emission well completions where practical, but more time is needed there, too. The rule's requirements should be phased in, he said, to give industry time to ensure technology is safe, feasible and cost effective.

Khary Cauthen, API's federal relations director, joined Feldman in a conference call with reporters Monday and talked specifically about EPA's proposals on refinery emissions and sulfur levels in gasoline:

"The refinery rule is currently scheduled to be proposed just over one month after EPA finishes collecting emissions data from oil and natural gas companies. More time is needed to review this information. And the agency has yet to make a strong case that additional sulfur reductions will produce environmental improvements worth their costs."

Earlier this month EPA shelved its proposed new standard for ozone concentrations in the air. It was shaping up as a jobs killer, and EPA pulled it back at the urging of the White House. It was the right decision. It's time to make another one and let industry provide meaningful feedback on these emissions proposals.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.