Posted January 1, 1
Though the U.S. Senate missed a chance to expeditiously rectify an unnecessary regulation that could impact natural gas and oil production on federal lands, jobs and U.S. consumers, we trust supporters of domestic energy will focus on future opportunities to implement policies and commonsense regulations that ensure safe, responsible and abundant production.
The Bureau of Land Management’s technically flawed rule on methane emissions is a solution in search a problem. It’s unnecessary. According to EPA data, emissions from natural gas systems were declining before the rule went into effect earlier this year – falling more than 16 percent from 1990 to 2015. Similarly, EPA’s report shows methane emissions from all petroleum systems decreased more than 28 percent since 1990.
This is largely due to industry innovations designed to capture more and more methane, the main component in natural gas, which is occurring under existing regulation by the states and EPA. They – and not BLM – have jurisdiction over air quality under the Clean Air Act.
Yet, despite this significant air quality progress and a number of good economic reasons to repeal BLM’s rule, the Senate took a pass. Erik Milito, API upstream and industry operations group director, said industry will look ahead:
“While it is disappointing that the Senate did not act to correct the rule more quickly, we look forward to working with the administration on policies that continue our commitment to safely produce the energy that Americans rely on, help consumers, create jobs, strengthen our national security, and protect our environment.”
This includes working with the Interior Department to reduce waste and ensure a fair return for taxpayers. Kate MacGregor, Interior’s acting assistant secretary for land and minerals, said the department is considering options to address BLM’s rule:
“As part of President Trump's America-First Energy Strategy and executive order, the Department has reviewed and flagged the Waste Prevention rule as one we will suspend, revise or rescind given its significant regulatory burden that encumbers American energy production, economic growth and job creation. The rule is expected to have real and harmful impacts on onshore energy development and could impact state and local jobs and revenue. Small independent oil and gas producers in states like North Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico, which account for a substantial portion of our nation's energy wealth, could be hit the hardest. The vote today in the Senate doesn't impact the Administration's commitment to spurring investment in responsible energy development and ensuring smart regulatory protections.”
Milito said securing America’s energy future will hinge on clearing away unnecessary obstacles to safe and responsible development of our natural gas and oil reserves:
“The United States is a global leader in production and refining of natural gas and oil while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the result of technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. It is through innovation – not unnecessary, costly and duplicative regulation – that we are able to achieve this success.”
Policies should focus on benefiting consumers and increasing America’s energy security. API President and CEO Jack Gerard, in a letter this week to Senate leaders:
We look forward to working with the Congress and the Department of the Interior to prioritize oil and natural gas production on federal and Indian lands to benefit the consumer, to enhance our nation’s ability to further reduce emissions, to provide jobs, and to generate much needed revenue for the federal Treasury.
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.