WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, sent a letter today to White House advisor Dan Utech, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, and Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe in response to the EPA's white papers recently released on the oil and natural gas sector as part of the Obama Administration's methane strategy.
In the letter, Inhofe wrote, "I have serious concerns with these White Papers. First, the White Papers demonstrate that EPA lacks a fundamental understanding of the industry’s practices and inner workings. They also reveal that EPA believes it has the capacity to actually help oil and natural gas companies operate more efficiently and profitably by mandating more guidelines and regulations; no regulatory body should have this perspective. Further, the White Papers are handicapped by inaccurate and outdated data estimates of industry-wide emissions. I have personally addressed this practice with Administrator McCarthy, yet the EPA’s use of faulty data persists and will yield nothing but inappropriate policy discussions and decisions by the agency. I urge the EPA to gather more information, revise the White Papers, and allow an official, robust comment period prior to engaging in any policymaking discussion that could impact the oil and natural gas industry."
Senator Inhofe continued the letter by prescribing the following five steps for the Administration to take before continuing with its methane strategy:
- "Conduct a roundtable discussion with oil and natural gas industry representatives and state regulators to determine appropriate terms to be used throughout the White Papers that are consistent with their uses within the oil and natural gas community. Concurrently, EPA should ensure that its understanding of oil and natural gas operations are appropriately articulated in the White Papers in accordance with industry standards and practices. EPA must amend its White Papers accordingly.
- "Conduct a series of roundtable meetings with oil and natural gas industry representatives to discuss mitigation options for each of the five areas being explored by EPA. EPA should seek to gain an understanding of the scenarios and operating conditions under which some mitigation options may not be appropriate. EPA must include these findings into the White Papers’ discussion of mitigation options.
- "Conduct a review of regulatory hurdles to deploying technologies and developing infrastructure that would reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations. Regulations, especially those developed quickly and in isolation from one another, can prove counterproductive for other policy goals. In assessing mitigation options, EPA must include recommendations for regulatory streamlining that could prove more beneficial than any new mitigation standards or requirements. EPA must add this discussion to the White Papers.
- "Conduct a series of roundtable meetings with state regulatory officials to better understand state efforts to regulate methane emissions. EPA must include these findings in the White Papers and include state regulators’ perspectives on whether EPA should take any methane related policymaking actions.
- "Develop, in cooperation with industry and state regulators, a unified national data set articulating an agreed upon estimate of nationwide methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry that is differentiated by basin and alleged source. The discussion surrounding the data set should also articulate the gaps and differences between the National Inventory and the GHGRP data sets. EPA should conduct a comprehensive data collection in conjunction with oil and natural gas producers on the methane emissions from each of the alleged sources of emissions discussed in the White Papers and in any other area of EPA’s interest where comprehensive data are not presently available. EPA should also update the factors it is currently relying on from outdated studies to estimate emission levels. The oil and natural gas industry has changed substantially since many of the factors being used by EPA were developed; these must be updated to account for new practices. This data set should be used in the White Papers as the standard moving forward."
Senator Inhofe also asked the officials to provide him with an overview of what the Administration plans to do once the White Paper process has been completed.
A copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.