WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works committee, announced an investigation focused on EPA’s actions — and rhetoric — towards American oil and natural producers, with a focus on recent federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing. While oil and natural gas has been, and continues to be, aggressively regulated on the state level, increased federal taxes and other unnecessary burdens will have a chilling impact on our economy and energy security.
The collective effect of these misguided policies will “decrease investment in American energy supplies, decrease economic growth and threaten job creation,” as the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s (IPAA) Jeff Eshelman notes in E&E News.
Most shockingly, however, Sen. Inhofe uncovered a video of EPA’s Al Armendariz declaring a “crucify” enforcement strategy. We understand that proper regulation is key to protecting our environment. But regulations must be based on science and facts — not a policy of execution.
As IPAA President Barry Russell highlighted in a recent Roll Call op-ed, “Protecting the environment and developing our resources must go hand in hand.” Russell underscores these critical facts in his column:
“Responsible, common-sense regulations on development are a foundation of the oil and natural gas industry’s operations — and rightly so. Protecting the environment and developing our resources must go hand in hand. But right now, under the Obama administration, there are not two, not three, but 11 federal agencies seeking to regulate, study and reassess oil and natural gas production in the United States.
“The Environmental Protection Agency, for its part, has been acting like an all-around bully; doing everything it can to smother the industry with one-size-fits-all regulations from Washington, D.C. It disregards the states’ impressive history of successful regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Also, the EPA has been using American tax dollars to conduct studies that distort scientific results to accuse the oil and natural gas industry of harming the environment. These studies have ignored the industry’s incredibly safe record and serve as a rallying cry for the president’s environmental base.
“Do his federal agencies’ brakes on development mean that Obama is fundamentally hostile to oil and natural gas as fuel sources?”
State regulators are speaking out, too. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) top leadership has addressed Mr. Armendariz’s incredibly offensive, and telling, comments:
“[EPA’s] philosophy flies in the face of the sound science, the law, and common sense that TCEQ regularly utilizes in pursuing legitimate enforcement actions where violations do in fact exist. We believe the way to protect human health and the environment is through vigorous enforcement, utilizing the state’s administrative procedures that are afforded to the public and the regulated community.”
Not only are the comments of Mr. Armendariz disturbingly inappropriate, they are also based on bias and unproven data. As countless regulators have stated—including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson— “States are stepping up and doing a good job.” EPA should remain focused on its core mission, allow states to continue “stepping up,” and leave the fiery rhetoric on the sidelines. The American people deserve no less.