Letters & Comments

Letters and Comments Aug 2, 2021

This letter provides comments from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (“AFPM”), the American Petroleum Institute (“API”), the American Exploration and Production Council (“AXPC”), and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (“IPAA”) (collectively, “the Associations”) in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s request for comment on reconsidering and revising the Agency’s 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule1 (“401 Certification Rule”). As explained in more detail below, the 401 Certification Rule provided long-overdue clarification on the role of states and other certifying authorities under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (“CWA” or “the Act”).

The clarifications furnished in the 401 Certification Rule were also necessary to address some states’ misuse of Section 401 certification procedures in pursuit of policy goals wholly distinct from considerations of potential water quality impacts. Indeed, the 401 Certification Rule was also necessary to incorporate a growing body of case law interpreting Section 401 of the Act consistent with Congress’s intent to preserve for states a highly circumscribed role in evaluating a proposed project’s potential impacts on certain enumerated CWA provisions.

The Associations therefore recommend EPA refrain from altogether setting aside the 401 Certification Rule. If EPA intends to promulgate revisions to portions of the 401 Certification Rule, we urge the Agency to do so in a way that adheres to congressional intent, conforms to relevant current and pending court decisions, and restrains misuse of Section 401 certification procedures. Indeed, as EPA considers revisions to the 401 Certification Rule, we are optimistic that the Agency will recognize that Congress did not intend CWA Section 401 to allow a single state to wield disproportionate power over projects of national importance, and to further recognize that the imposition of reasonable limits on the disproportionate use of Section 401 certification authority is consistent with the principles of cooperative federalism.

Letters and Comments Jul 30, 2021

“For over the past eleven years IPAA has been actively engaged in working with the EPA to promulgate NSPS for the oil and natural gas sector that are cost-effective, reasonable and justified under the CAA. IPAA’s message has been clear and consistent: EPA’s “one-size-fits all” approach to regulating the oil and natural gas industry is inappropriate and disproportionally impacts conventional operations, low production wells, and small businesses. IPAA has advocated for cost effective management of industry air emissions – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and methane – and has a long history of participation in voluntary programs that are cost-effective. Unlike many industries, the oil and natural gas industry’s “product” is essentially the same “pollutant” that EPA has sought to control. The oil and natural gas industry has a pure economic incentive to prevent every molecule of “pollutant” from escaping to the atmosphere. What IPAA has consistently sought is cost-effective regulations justified by the authority entrusted to the EPA by the Clean Air Act (CAA), tailored to the unique aspects of the industry.

“The deliberations regarding the structure of federal regulation of oil and natural gas production air emissions continue to evolve. Congress’ recent action to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to rescind EPA regulations that changed the regulatory target to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) largely settles a recurring question in the regulatory structure. Oil and natural gas production regulations will now be largely directed to manage emissions using methane as the targeted emissions. Focusing on methane emissions is consistent with Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” This Executive Order directs the Agency to reduce emissions of methane and other air pollutants from new and existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector. Two predominant elements of those efforts will be reconsideration of technical changes to Subpart OOOOa (Oil and Gas Sector: Emissions Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources) and the development of emissions guidelines under Section 111(d) of the CAA.

“The debate over the choice of VOC or methane as the regulatory target has been intense and acrimonious, sometimes hyperbolic. Much of the tension related to the implications of the choice on the regulation of existing oil and natural gas wellsites. That debate is now over. The next steps must turn to the development of cost effective regulations. …”

Supplemental Comments

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments Jul 28, 2021

Dear Ms. Coyle:

The undersigned organizations appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) June 29, 2021, interim final rule, “Deadline for Agencies to Propose Updates to National Environmental Policy Act Procedures,” (the “Delay Rule”).1 We support the environmental stewardship goals of NEPA and are concerned that the Delay Rule will create confusion and uncertainty and ultimately lead to further delays in agency decisionmaking, associated infrastructure construction, and economic development for the Nation and communities that need it most.

Letters and Comments, Offshore Jul 14, 2021

Dear Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Westerman,

On behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), I write to oppose H.R. 3764, a bill to direct the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide for ocean-based climate solutions to reduce carbon emissions and global warming. IPAA is a national upstream trade association representing thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States and offshore. Independent producers develop 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells. These companies account for 83 percent of America’s oil production, 90 percent of its natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) production, and support over 4.5 million American jobs.

H.R. 3764 restricts access to areas for offshore oil and gas production by prohibiting leasing as well as geological or geophysical activities in support of oil and natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) except in the Central and Western planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico. This ban on production will have far reaching effects not just for oil and natural gas producers but will also severely impact coastal state budgets, the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund which receives one hundred percent of its funding from offshore receipts, and the Federal Treasury.

H.R. 3764 goes on to fast-track designations of new National Marine Sanctuaries and include Marine Protected Areas, further limiting access for multiple-use activities. While the Congressional Budget Office has not given an official score yet, conservative estimates believe H.R. 3764 will create an additional $19 Billion of discretionary spending while hampering the economic contribution of the oil and natural gas industry at the same time.

For these reasons, IPAA is strongly opposed to H.R. 3764.


Letters and Comments Jun 15, 2021

IPAA submitted a letter in support of S. 1076, the REGROW Act, for the record for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Public Lands, Forests, & Mining Subcommittee Legislative Hearing on June 16, 2021.

“The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) supports S. 1076, the REGROW Act and actions to address orphan wells throughout the nation.  States with oil and natural gas production have been acting to plug orphan wells for decades. The REGROW Act provides additional funds for these state programs and aids their initiatives and the workers who undertake these efforts during the difficult fiscal times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the United States, there are over 56,000 documented oil and natural gas wells that have been orphaned.  Taking proactive steps to support the existing state orphan well remediation programs is the best path forward to address this important issue. This approach ensures that we effectively and efficiently utilize the expertise and experience the states have accumulated in their decades long work to resolve this issue.

“The oil and natural gas industry lost more than 100,000 jobs during the pandemic. The REGROW Act supports existing oil and gas workers and provides an opportunity for those who lost their jobs to come back to work while also creating a healthier environment.

“IPAA thanks the committee for ​acting on this legislation. We applaud the leadership of Sens. Lujan and Cramer for their tireless efforts in working with all interested parties on this legislation that will help address this important issue in a reasonable and thoughtful manner. The broad, bipartisan support from lawmakers and stakeholders is a testament to the hard work and consideration that went into producing this piece of legislation.

“Thanks to Chairman Manchin and the members of the committee for holding this hearing today and we urge quick adoption of S. 1076”

Endangered Species, Letters and Comments Jun 7, 2021

IPAA members believe species conservation is important as they actively work to protect the environment and habitats where they operate and live. Many independent companies have Fish and Wildlife-approved Avian Protection Plans and have spent millions of dollars of private capital on the conservation of listed and candidate species. IPAA was pleased with the January 7, 2021 rule that finalized a regulation to affirm the Solicitor’s Opinion, M-37050. We have long felt that this was an important step to clarify the legal role of the MBTA to support species protection, while limiting inappropriate legal impacts on otherwise lawful activities from an array of industries. For this reason, IPAA does not support the Services’ current proposed rule, which would rescind the January 7 decision and broadens the scope of application for the MBTA. IPAA believes that the January 7 final rule, which promulgated regulations that define the scope of MBTA to prohibit incidental take actions, brings the regulation closer to the original intent of the law, as passed by Congress.

Letters and Comments, Taxes Jun 2, 2021

“The undersigned trade associations represent all segments of the oil and natural gas sector ranging from family-owned businesses to the largest multi-national enterprises operating around the world. We write to voice our uniform opposition to proposed changes to the Internal Revenue Code (“the Code”) in the Clean Energy for America Act, which are aimed at the oil and natural gas sector.  Rather than “leveling the playing field,” these proposed changes would necessarily result in fewer jobs, higher energy costs for American families, and the loss of market share to foreign competitors, like the state-owned enterprises from China and Russia….

“We encourage the committee to avoid using the tax code as a weapon to discriminate against any particular economic sector.  The natural gas, oil, and fuels industries should not be prevented from recovering costs that other industries are eligible for simply because they operate in a different economic sector. The U.S. tax code allows industries across the manufacturing sector to recover costs related to job creation and other operational investments.  These common tax mechanisms allow these companies to create jobs, invest in our communities, and deliver the energy that working families rely on every day. …”

Letters and Comments, Regulations May 12, 2021

Dear Administrator Regan,

We write to congratulate you on your appointment to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to request a meeting with you and your team to discuss Clean Water Act jurisdiction and permitting and its impact on the Biden administration’s priorities. The Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) represents major sectors of the the American economy that are affected by the definition of “waters of the United States;” including construction, transportation, housing, mining, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, energy, wildlife conservation, recreation, and public health and safety sectors – all of which are vital to a thriving economy and providing much-needed jobs. The coalition has been working with the EPA, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Congress, and other stakeholders on this issue for more than a decade.

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments Apr 28, 2021

To Ms. Mallory:

The undersigned members of the Unlock American Investment coalition congratulate you on your confirmation to serve as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Your extensive experience makes you well qualified to serve in this important role. We look forward to working with you on topics of mutual interest.

The U.S. is falling behind in the quality of our infrastructure, a fact that threatens economic growth and competitiveness. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ most recent report card gave U.S. infrastructure a “C-” and the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. 13th in the world for the overall quality of our infrastructure. We appreciate the President’s focus on improving the quality of our nation’s infrastructure, from roads and bridges to broadband and electric transmission.

There is no doubt we need such investments to help grow the economy, as well as to revitalize disadvantaged and underserved communities. However, investment alone is not enough. To realize their associated benefits, we need to ensure that the full range of critical infrastructure projects can be delivered in a timely manner. This effort must be accompanied by improvements in the federal environmental review and permitting process. …

Letters and Comments Apr 5, 2021

In comments submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on April 5, IPAA strongly opposed FERC’s reopening of a certificate granted to Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC and Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, LLC for the operation of the Weymouth Compressor Station (Docket No. CP16-9-012).  At the February open meeting, FERC allowed for continued operation of the compressor station but established an expedited briefing schedule to further examine public safety concerns, seeking answers on the need for additional mitigation measures and the consequences if FERC were to stay or reverse its prior authorization order. IPAA noted that FERC already is reviewing its policy for certification of interstate natural gas pipelines, which is the appropriate forum for any prospective change. “The regulatory uncertainty created by the issuance of the Briefing Order can have chilling effects on the ability of pipeline companies to adapt existing facilities or construct new ones… The implications are compounded by the effects on gas-consuming utilities and generators as they make their decisions on how best to meet their delivery obligations.”

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.