The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Regulatory Push Risks Natural Gas Progress

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 3, 2016

Some context for legal challenges to EPA’s final rule for new oil and natural gas sources, filed individually this week by a coalition of states, API and other organizations.

As we’ve noted before, methane emissions from field production of natural gas are falling – mainly because industry wants to capture as much of the primary component of natural gas as possible, to deliver to customers. Industry is on it, deploying technologies and know-how to prevent emissions during production. Bottom line: In a period of soaring production, we’ve had falling methane emissions.

This is happening under the current regulatory regime. Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy earlier this year:

“The industry is already leading the way on methane reductions because it is good for the environment and good for business. Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies. It doesn’t make sense that the administration would add unreasonable and overly burdensome regulations when the industry is already leading the way in reducing emissions.”

Even so, EPA has chosen to embark on a new regulatory push, one that could potentially disrupt measures now in place. API’s lawsuit asks the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to assess the EPA’s rule on the grounds that the agency has exceeded its statutory authority. API managing counsel John Wagner:

“Consumers and businesses are seeing significant savings through lower energy costs largely driven by the revolution in U.S. shale energy production. The implementation of duplicative and costly regulations could discourage natural gas production, disrupt our progress reducing emissions, and increase the cost of energy for American consumers.”

The broader issue is the potential harm that could be done to the renaissance in domestic oil and natural gas production that has changed America’s energy narrative from one of scarcity to one of abundance. In the case of potential impacts on natural gas production, we’re talking about a fuel whose increased use has resulted in carbon emissions from power generation falling to their lowest level in more than 20 years. We shouldn’t be jeopardizing progress on that front, as well as progress in reducing methane emissions. West Virginia state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:

“This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach jeopardizing West Virginia jobs and working families. The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry's success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low.”

Other states joining West Virginia in the challenge are Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin, along with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

America’s energy revolution is about domestic production gains that have strengthened the economy, benefited individual U.S. households and made us more secure – while also reducing emissions. We should say yes to these successes instead of working to unnecessarily hindering progress. J. Winston Porter, former EPA assistant administrator:

“Too much extremism in our national energy debate is obscuring what should be easily-found common ground. The shale revolution has proven remarkably successful in reducing consumer costs while giving us the tool we need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. Those on both sides of the aisle should learn to embrace a good thing when they've got it. The shale revolution and the nation's vast and affordable supply of natural gas is just that.”


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.