The Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn an Obama-era request for data on methane emissions at oil and gas operations.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing its request that owners and operators in the oil and natural gas industry provide information on equipment and emissions at existing oil and gas operations," the agency said in a statement. "The withdrawal is effective immediately, meaning owners and operators -- including those who have received an extension to their due dates for providing the information -- are no longer required to respond."
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said oil and gas companies will no longer have to share data on methane emissions with the government and added that he wants to look into the necessity of the request, which former President Barack Obama issued in November, at the tail end of his eight-year presidency, reported The Associated Press.
Several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana complained about the data request.
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"By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states," Pruitt said in a press release published on the EPA website. "Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry."
"Under the previous administration, EPA sent letters to more than 15,000 owners and operators in the oil and gas industry, requiring them to provide information," the agency said in its press release. "The information request comprised of two parts: an 'operator survey' that asked for basic information on the numbers and types of equipment at all onshore oil and gas production facilities in the U.S., and a 'facility survey' asking for more detailed information on sources of methane emissions and emission control devices or practices in use by a representative sampling of facilities in several segments of the oil and gas industry. EPA is withdrawing both parts of the information request."
When the rule was established on Nov. 15, 2016, the Bureau of Land Management noted it updated 30-year-old regulations on flaring, venting and natural gas leaks from oil and gas production, and could save 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, reported Reuters.
Methane, a key component of natural gas, is considered a contributor to climate change. The oil and gas industry is methane's largest source in the U.S., reports AP.
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"This rule to prevent waste of our nation’s natural gas supplies is good government, plain and simple," said then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "We are proving that we can cut harmful methane emissions that contribute to climate change, while putting in place standards that make good economic sense for the nation."