Letters & Comments

Letters and Comments Nov 23, 2021

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal to rescind the final rule titled “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat” that published on December 18, 2020, and became effective January 19, 2021 (“the Final Rule”). IPAA does not support the rescission and is supportive of the Service’s previous efforts to clarify language and return the Endangered Species Act (ESA) back to the original intent of the law. Unfortunately, the ESA has been used all too frequently as a tool for litigation and a vehicle to stall important development projects for years and even decades. IPAA supported the Service’s previous rule as it led to safeguard species conservation while also clarifying criteria for consistent critical habitat designation.

Letters and Comments Nov 22, 2021

Our organizations represent a diverse set of economic sectors that form the backbone of the American economy—agriculture, energy, construction, forestry, manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors. Through the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the United States has made the most significant investment in infrastructure since the New Deal. The Act will promote projects that will enable the movement of people, goods, information, and energy to support the American economy. To ensure that the Act succeeds, further efforts are needed. In order to realize this investment, the Administration should ensure an efficient and transparent NEPA review process.

We fully support the fundamental goals of NEPA to better inform agency decisions and the public’s understanding of the potential environmental impacts of federal actions. A federal permitting system that is focused and aligned with these goals is needed for timely investment to address the digital divide in rural and large urban areas, to facilitate construction of public transit to connect communities to job centers, and to build out the energy infrastructure that is essential to our economic recovery and to progress on the climate challenge, to name a few key priorities. Recognizing the importance of an effective and efficient federal permitting system—and with a show of broad bipartisan support—Congress codified the One Federal Decision policy in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, providing clarity to the regulated community concerning agency coordination of environmental reviews.2 CEQ now has a similar opportunity with this rulemaking. …

The 2020 Rule strengthened the role of NEPA in the federal decision-making process by building on decades of experience and case law to tailor implementation to the goals of the law and to foster a process that provides meaningful information to decision-makers and to the public. Indeed, the 2020 Rule made changes that codified existing case law and agency best practices or clarified requirements that had often been misinterpreted and had given rise to litigation. We urge CEQ to retain the 2020 Rule provisions, which will support increased infrastructure investment, expanded project development, and improved infrastructure permitting and leasing decisions in a manner that strengthens our economy and enhances environmental stewardship. Furthermore, retaining the current rule language will provide much needed stability in contrast to the uncertainty and expense caused by shifts between Administrations.

Letters and Comments Nov 9, 2021

Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso,

We are grateful for your collective leadership in recent months to bring balance to the policy debate on energy policy. As the backbone of the American oil and natural gas industry, our respective organizations are writing to express our grave concerns with virtually every one of the provisions included in the House Committee on Natural Resources title of the Build Back Better Act. We request that the Senate strike the House language from the bill and wait for the Biden Administration’s leasing moratorium report to be released before undertaking any revision to the current federal oil and gas onshore and offshore programs.

The House language is unworkable in many ways. It is bad policy and has generated a long list of concerns which we are happy to discuss in detail with you. In short, if implemented it will:

1. Drive all but a few large industry players off federal lands and waters as it renders federal leases completely uncompetitive compared to adjacent private or state lands

2. Decrease funding significantly for conservation of federal lands, which are financed exclusively by federal oil, natural gas, and coal

3. Reduce competition as well as innovation in both the onshore and offshore industry

4. Widen the income gap between urban and rural communities

5. Fail in its overly optimistic revenue projections, adding billions to the deficit.

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 13, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

On behalf of the companies and associations that make up the natural gas supply chain and the 180 million Americans and the 5.5 million businesses that rely on natural gas, we would like to express our concerns about Section 30114—the Environmental Protection Agency Methane Fee—included in Subtitle A of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s reconciliation package—the Build Back Better Act. Through numerous programs and initiatives, our companies are at the forefront of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including methane. Moreover, natural gas is responsible for 61% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions savings due to changes in the electricity generation fuel mix.

As we highlighted in our letter dated September 7, 2021, new fees or taxes on energy companies will raise costs for customers, creating a burden that will fall most heavily on lower-income Americans. These major new costs most likely will result in higher bills for natural gas customers, including families, small businesses, and power generators. Over the last week, three variations of the methane tax have been introduced with our analysis showing increases to customer natural gas bills ranging from 12% to 18% to 34%, with the average cost from $85- $242 per year. Without a serious cost-benefit analysis, the impact to the consumer, and more broadly, to the economy and the environment are unknown. We appreciate the efforts to address methane emissions, but the unintended consequences of this tax could prove harmful to families across the country with little environmental benefit.

These outcomes are inconsistent with President Biden’s commitment to pay for reconciliation without imposing new taxes on lower-income Americans. One-third of households already face a challenge in meeting energy needs, according to the Energy Information Administration. In a 2015 survey, 25 million households reported forgoing food and medicine to pay energy bills. According to the Department of Energy’s Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) tool, the national average energy burden for low-income households—upwards of 50 million homes— is three times higher than non-low-income households. Furthermore, the energy burden can be as high as 30% of gross household income, depending on location and income. Any increase in low-income households’ energy costs could prove devastating. …

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 12, 2021

Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers:

Last week, the undersigned organizations wrote to you to oppose the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, introduced by Senators Whitehouse, Booker, and Schatz in March 2021, and its inclusion in the reconciliation package as a punitive pay-for targeted solely on the oil and natural gas industry that would harm the U.S. economy and cost good-paying American jobs. The good news is that the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) slated for a full committee markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow has not adopted the fundamentally flawed Methane Emissions Reduction Act. The bad news is that the BBBA includes a methane fee that is equally problematic.

The Methane Emissions Reduction Act’s default tax on methane was steep at $1,800 per ton. The amount of the BBBA methane tax remains significant at $1,500 per ton. Given natural gas and petroleum together account for nearly 70% of energy consumption in the U.S., new taxes on the industry are likely to have a ripple effect across the U.S. economy – at a time when inflation is already skyrocketing.

The scope of oil and gas facilities subject to the tax is unclear. The legislation instructs EPA to lower the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) reporting threshold for oil and gas facilities from the current threshold of 25,000 metric tons of GHGs to 10,000 metric tons of GHGs. The number of facilities and the emission profile of those facilities that fall between the 10,000 and 25,000 metric tons limits are unknown. Additionally, the resulting emission and cost impacts of lowering the reporting threshold cannot be estimated. What is certain, however, is that a substantial number of smaller operators who have never before been subject to EPA’s GHGRP will not only be subject to EPA reporting regulations, but also a new targeted tax. …

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 8, 2021

Dear Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito,

As the Senate develops a reconciliation package, ensuring Americans have access to affordable and reliable energy while continuing to reduce emissions should be top of mind. Unfortunately, the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, first introduced by Senators Whitehouse, Booker, and Schatz in March 2021 and being considered for inclusion in the reconciliation bill as a payfor, would levy an unreasonable, punitive fee on methane emissions only from oil and natural gas facilities that could jeopardize affordable and reliable energy with likely little reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The bill would tax methane emissions at a default rate of $1,800 per ton in 2023, increasing 5% above inflation annually, with fees for individual companies assessed via a complicated formula based on their share of production or handling (not actual emissions) and the average emissions intensity in the oil and gas basin in which they operate. Alternatively, companies could engage in a likely costly and burdensome process of tracking their own emissions. The bill also includes an import fee which will be levied on each company that imports crude oil, natural gas, or natural gas liquids into the United States. The import fee could likely raise consumer costs, distort markets, and could incentivize retaliatory actions from our trading partners. The bill has never been the subject of a Congressional hearing, and therefore never scrutinized or debated among lawmakers. Congress has never discussed the potential impacts of the methane fee on consumers or the U.S. energy market. …

Letters and Comments, Methane, Taxes Sep 7, 2021

On behalf of the companies and associations that make up the natural gas supply chain and the 180 million Americans and the 5.5 million businesses that rely on natural gas, we would like to express our concerns about including a methane emissions fee or tax in budget reconciliation legislation. Through numerous programs and initiatives, our companies are at the forefront of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including methane. Moreover, natural gas is responsible for 61% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions savings due to changes in the electricity generation fuel mix.

The industry is committed to continuing its efforts to minimize methane emissions across the U.S. economy. However, the methane fee framework currently being considered would introduce a regressive tax on low-income and fixed-income Americans, ignore existing and anticipated federal regulations on methane emissions, and lessen available capital for our companies’ ongoing investments in further reducing methane emissions.

New fees or taxes on energy companies will raise costs for customers, creating a burden that will fall most heavily on lower-income Americans. While we appreciate that the details of the methane fee proposal are still under development, based on similar proposals introduced earlier this Congress, we estimate that the fee could amount to tens of billions of dollars annually. These major new costs most likely will result in higher bills for natural gas customers, including families, small businesses, and power generators. In one scenario, we estimate that such a fee could result in the average customer seeing an approximate increase of 17% in their natural gas bill, or over $100 per year for the average American family. We also estimate that the proposal could put more than 100,000 American jobs at risk. …

Letters and Comments Sep 3, 2021

Dear Ms. Christensen and Ms. Jensen:

The Waters Advocacy Coalition (“WAC” or “Coalition”) provides these recommendations in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA’s”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (“Corps’”) notice soliciting pre-proposal feedback on defining “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”).

The Coalition’s members are committed to both building modern, resilient infrastructure and protecting and restoring America’s wetlands and waters and we believe that a clear regulation that draws bright lines between federal and state waters will help further those goals. The Coalition represents a diverse cross-section of the nation’s agriculture, construction, transportation, real estate, mining, manufacturing, forestry, energy, recreational, wildlife conservation, and public health and safety sectors—all of which are vital to a thriving national economy and provide much needed jobs. If the Administration and our nation are to meet our ambitious climate and infrastructure objectives, more must be done to ensure that federal permitting is sustainable and effective, consistent with current statutory authority and legal precedent. We have commented extensively on prior rules, including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”); the proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule (“2015 Rule”);the proposed 2015 Rule; the 2011 Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act; the 2008 Guidance on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction After Rapanos; and the 2003 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Clean Water Act Definition of “Waters of the United States.” Most of the Coalition’s individual members have also submitted their own comments on these proposals. Through these individual and collective efforts, the Coalition’s members possess a wealth of expertise directly relevant to the Agencies’ efforts to define WOTUS. Our ask has remained steadfast: we need clear rules to protect clean water. …

Endangered Species, Letters and Comments Sep 1, 2021

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, IPAA submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ (FWS) proposed rules for listing two distinct populations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) as threatened with a 4(d) rule and endangered under the Endangered Species Act. IPAA argued against listing the bird as extensive work is ongoing for conservation efforts through the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the use of Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. Furthermore, studies are ongoing about current bird populations that would be useful to the FWS for making an informed decision on listing.

Federal Lands, Letters and Comments, Methane, Regulations, Taxes Aug 31, 2021

Dear Chairman Grijalva:

The fight over the reconciliation legislation is one of the most consequential debates the women and men who work in America’s oil and natural gas patch have faced in decades.  The reconciliation package being considered by the House Natural Resources Committee establishes new onerous regulatory requirements and penalties on the industry.  Although the supporters of the bill claim these efforts are focused on environmental protection, this legislation has nothing to do with addressing climate change or protecting the environment.  This legislation has one purpose, to decimate America’s oil and natural gas producers that operate on onshore and offshore federal lands. 

Our nation’s oil and natural gas explorers and producers are committed to protecting the environment, reducing methane emissions and supporting jobs in local communities across the nation.  All of that will be lost if the budget reconciliation package is approved.  IPAA is strongly opposed to the budget reconciliation measure being considered by the Committee and urge all members to oppose this legislation

IPAA is the industry's strongest presence in the nation's capital and these are important times. The entire oil and gas industry remains under fire from anti-development groups; but with these challenges arise unique opportunities that IPAA is seizing for our members.