WASHINGTON — This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a series of new rules governing emissions controls at oil and natural gas wellsites across the country. Overall, the new regulations aim to limit the air pollution that may be tied to oil and natural gas production. And while this is a noble goal that producers agree should be met, the new rules do not come without concern.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and its members are dedicated to continued development of our nation’s oil and natural gas resources–key sources of energy, economic, and national security for the U.S.–in the safest, most responsible and most environmentally sensitive manner possible. That is why today, many of the technologies underscored in EPA’s new rules are already being met and exceeded by industry. Control technologies and green completion methods are common practice for many independent oil and natural gas producers, creating significant reduction in emissions at the hands of industry investments in new, innovative, clean technology. As IPAA’s Barry Russell highlighted in Gas Business Briefing:
“The good news is that many of the objectives that EPA would like to see accomplished under these new rules are already being met and exceeded by industry, with control technologies being deployed across the country and significant reductions in emissions being realized across the board,” said Independent Petroleum Association of America CEO Barry Russell.
Yet just as independents are dedicated to environmental stewardship, they are dedicated to facts. As IPAA noted in the LA Times, State Journal, and others, EPA’s new regulations should be based on the highest caliber of science available — and EPA’s underlying emissions data sits on shaky ground. As the Houston Chronicle notes:
“The EPA’s estimates about emissions reductions “are significantly overstated,” IPAA’s Barry Russell said. “The use of accurate data — readily available to the agency — would likely have yielded a very different rule, and one that’s more in line with the reality of the situation.”
But despite these challenges, independent producers are thriving, safely producing American energy resources, and reducing our impact on the environment. Just this week, IPAA greeted a record breaking number of attendees at IPAA’s 18th annual OGIS New York, where publicly traded companies showcased their portfolios and demonstrated ever evolving and improving technology of their companies. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board points out, industry is already taking the lead, and working with state regulators to produce our natural resources while mitigating environmental impacts. Yet increased federal regulation stands not only to duplicate these efforts, but hinder development that the public relies upon for their everyday energy needs:
“The EPA is basically requiring operators to do what they’re doing anyway: Most wellheads and pipelines already exceed the EPA benchmark…The reality is that as fracking booms through the Appalachian basin, the South and mountain West, the early wildcatting days are over. Operators are professional and best practices are spreading.
“Try as the EPA has, the fracking pollution the agency has claimed to uncover in Wyoming and elsewhere has turned out to be either small or hyped. But with this new rule, 10 separate federal agencies on top of the EPA will add a second layer of oversight. The EPA’s rules may be achievable, but they’re redundant.”