The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on April 19 it would reconsider a rule on emissions from oil and gas operations and delay its implementation.
In a letter to the American Petroleum Institute and the Texas Oil and Gas Association, among others, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency is issuing a 90-day stay of the compliance date for fugitive emission monitoring requirements. The rules were to take effect on June 3.
Oil interest groups petitioned the EPA in April 2016 to reconsider the rule limiting emissions of the greenhouse gas methane and other pollutants from new and revamped oil and gas operations.
In releasing the standards in May 2016, the agency said its actions were part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. EPA said that, by 2025, the standards for new and modified sources were expected to reduce methane emissions by 510,000 short tons, ozone-forming VOCs by 210,000 tons and air toxics, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, by 3,900 tons.
Pruitt said in the letter "We find that the petitions have raised at least one objection to the fugitive emissions monitoring requirements...that arose after the comment period or was impracticable to raise during the comment period." As a result, the agency is reopening the public comment period.
News outlet CNN quoted a spokesperson from the Union of Concerned Scientists as saying, "Methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, and the scale of methane emissions from oil and gas production is enormous." A climate lawyer for the Sierra Club reportedly called the move "a thinly veiled attempt to take back this rule that was finalized and already in effect."