Letters & Comments

Letters and Comments, Methane Sep 30, 2023

Re: Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems

These comments are filed on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). IPAA represents the thousands of independent oil and natural gas explorers and producers, as well as the service and supply industries that support their efforts, that will be significantly affected by the actions resulting from this regulatory proposal. Independent producers drill about 91 percent of American oil and natural gas wells, produce 83 percent of American oil and produce 90 percent of American natural gas.

In addition to the specific comments made herein, IPAA has joined comments submitted separately by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

These comments address proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise reporting requirements for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems for the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) under Subpart W.

The task mandated to EPA by Congress requires the agency to comprehensively review, revise and validate its Subpart W regulations to make them accurate and reliable because of the role their implementation will play in the MERP, defining exposure and calculating its methane tax. Congress’ deadline of EPA’s action failed to reflect the reality of the task. EPA, faced with the choice of meeting a deadline or meeting its mandate to comprehensively revise Subpart W, chose the deadline and produced a wholly inadequate compendium of emissions calculations. At its best, the Subpart W proposal collects revisions to the current calculation process that EPA failed to validate as either accurate or appropriate. At its worst, the Subpart W proposal is a thinly disguised effort to raise the MERP methane tax rates through careful selection of higher emissions factors and unworkable calculation procedures. EPA should withdraw the current Subpart W proposal and execute its mandate to make it accurate, including taking the necessary steps to validate the emissions factors or emissions calculation procedures that it ultimately puts in place.

Infrastructure, Letters and Comments, Uncategorized Sep 29, 2023

Re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Council on Environmental Quality; National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations Revisions Phase 2 (88 Fed. Reg. 49,924, July 31, 2023)

Dear Chair Mallory:

The undersigned associations (collectively, the “Coalition”) offer the following comments in response to the Council on Environmental Quality’s (“CEQ’s”) proposed National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) Implementing Regulations Revisions Phase 2 (“Proposed Rule”).1 Our organizations represent a diverse set of economic sectors that form the backbone of the American economy – agriculture, energy, construction, mining, forestry, manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors. …

CEQ should withdraw the Proposed Rule and modify it in accordance with these comments before considering promulgating a new proposed rule for additional public review and comment. These comments address four central flaws in the Proposed Rule:

  • The Proposed Rule is written to drive policy outcomes. In so doing, the Proposed Rule exceeds the bounds of the letter and intent of NEPA.
  • The Proposed Rule fails to fulfill the specific requirements and overall purpose of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The FRA amended NEPA to address permitting delays. The Proposed Rule would only exacerbate delays and complexity driven by new requirements that would inevitably be followed by litigation.
  • The Proposed Rule would add new requirements that would further delay and complicate reviews, including requirements that are outside the permissible bounds of the statute itself. In addition, the Proposed Rule adds a new global dimension to required environmental analysis, improperly stepping away from the statute’s focus on “present and future generations of Americans.”
  • The Proposed Rule would remove key process improvements from the 2020 NEPA rule. If made final, the Proposed Rule would not fix the widely acknowledged project delays caused by federal NEPA reviews, delays that continue to plague critical projects, including projects needed to fulfill Congress’ recent investments in energy and infrastructure.

Letters and Comments, Regulations Sep 22, 2023

IPAA joined with the American Petroleum Institute and 12 other energy trade associations in calling on the Biden administration to prioritize the energy needs of the American people by developing fair and consistent federal leasing regulations. In comments submitted to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the associations reiterated the oil and natural gas industry’s longstanding record of responsible development of the United States’ vast natural resources but expressed concern over the damaging impact this rule could have on American energy security. 

“Our nation and the world will continue to need reliable, affordable oil and natural gas to grow our economy, power our communities and serve as the foundation for broader opportunities for decades to come. Oil and natural gas production on public lands is a crucial part of the nation’s program for energy security and economic strength,” said API Vice President of Upstream Policy Holly Hopkins. “Because of the vital importance of energy production on public lands, overreaching land management regulations place our domestic energy supply at risk.” 

In the comments, the associations raised concerns that the proposed rule overreaches BLM’s statutory authority, disregards Congress’s intent to preserve federal leasing programs and rejects existing robust planning and environmental review processes, allowing BLM to constrain onshore energy development on a case-by-case basis. The Associations urged BLM to revise the proposed rulemaking to ensure the American people can continue to reap the economic, energy security and environmental benefits of continued domestic energy production.

Letters and Comments, Offshore Sep 7, 2023

Dear Ms. Spence:

The Gulf Energy Alliance (“GEA”), the Independent Petroleum Association of America (“IPAA”), the U.S. Oil and Gas Association (“USOGA”), the Southeast Oil and Gas Association (“SOGA”), the Mississippi Energy Institute (“MEI”), and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (“LOGA”) respectfully submit the following comments on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (“BOEM”) proposed rule entitled The Risk Management and Financial Assurance for OCS Lease and Grant Obligations1 (the “Proposed Rule”). …

We are deeply concerned that BOEM failed to consider or adequately address the devastating financial impacts the Proposed Rule will have on the U.S. economy and the domestic oil and gas industry, the environment, national security interests, and the American people. The Proposed Rule ignores the feasibility of securing further financial assurance in the current struggling surety market and marks a radical shift from the reliance on the bedrock joint and several liability framework, which holds both predecessors and current lessees in the chain of title accountable for decommissioning obligations.

The Proposed Rule aims to solve a problem that does not exist. Although the agency claims to undertake this rulemaking for to benefit the American taxpayer, the Proposed Rule ignores how the longstanding joint and several liability system has successfully shielded taxpayers from decommissioning costs. Although the liability that American taxpayers have actually absorbed from decommissioning is quite minimal, in its wake, the Proposed Rule will impose significant burdens on the current lessees who are largely independent oil companies. Which will, in turn, delay decommissioning activity and harm the environment, weaken domestic oil and natural gas production, strengthen the positioning of other oil producing countries who pose national security risks to the U.S., increase oil prices and related consumer costs, and ultimately damage the U.S. economy and the American people. …


Letters and Comments Aug 21, 2023

Re: Proposed Rule, Council on Environmental Quality, “National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations Revisions Phase 2,” 88 Fed. Reg. 49924 (July 31, 2023)

Dear Ms. Coyle:

The undersigned organizations respectfully urge a comment period extension of at least 45 days on the Council on Environmental Quality’s (“CEQ’s”) proposed rule to amend the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), including the implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s significant amendments to NEPA.

The undersigned organizations represent many sectors of our economy. Our industries drive economic growth, from telecom to ports, airlines to automakers, energy, construction and labor, real estate, mining, trucking, manufacturing and more. We are grateful that Congress and the Administration have made the most significant infrastructure investments in a generation, from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. We are ready to go to work. But without positive reforms to make our permitting process more efficient, transparent, and predictable, the nearly $2 trillion of projected public and private sector investments spurred by these bills may not come to fruition.

CEQ has proposed a complex rule that would impact the federal review process for multitudes of projects and activities, large and small. It is vital that the Agency gets it right…

Letters and Comments Aug 16, 2023
IPAA joined GPA Midstream, API, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, PIOGA, GO-WV, OOGA, KOGA, TXOGA and the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma (collectively, Gas Gathering Industry Commenters) in submitting comments in response to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)’s proposed Pipeline Safety: Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair rule on the proposals for onshore gas gathering lines.
“The Gas Gathering Industry Commenters support the Agency’s efforts to prescribe gas pipeline leak detection and repair (LDAR) regulations pursuant to the requirements in Section 113 of the 2020 PIPES Act. Congress directed the Agency in Section 113 to establish minimum performance standards for LDAR programs and to require the use of advanced leak detection technologies and practices for certain types of gas pipeline facilities; namely, gas distribution lines, gas transmission lines, and regulated onshore gas gathering lines in more populated Class 2, 3, and 4 locations. The Gas Gathering Industry Commenters appreciate that PHMSA has an obligation to act expeditiously in satisfying Congress’ instructions, that the policy preferences of the executive branch will be taken into account in meeting that objective, and that reducing methane emissions is a priority for the current administration, the pipeline industry, and other interested stakeholders.
“But Section 113 of the 2020 PIPES Act did not suspend the Agency’s obligation to follow the law in prescribing LDAR regulations for gas pipeline facilities. The Pipeline Safety Act requires PHMSA to conduct a risk assessment in developing proposed safety standards, and that risk assessment must identify the regulatory and non-regulatory options considered, explain why the options identified were either selected or rejected, identify the associated costs and benefits, and describe the technical data or information relied upon in developing the proposed standard and risk assessment…
“PHMSA committed that serious error in developing the LDAR regulations for onshore gas gathering lines in the Proposed Rule…The defects in the Proposed Rule go well beyond the Agency’s failure to comply with the Pipeline Safety Act’s risk assessment requirements. The proposal to require gathering line operators to participate in the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) is unlawful….”
“The Gas Gathering Industry Commenters do not object to all aspects of the Proposed Rule. The proposed reporting requirement for large-volume gas releases is a reasonable concept, although improvements are needed to eliminate unnecessary provisions and duplicative reporting obligations…”
“Despite these limited areas of agreement, the Agency has left itself with no choice but to return to the drawing board in developing the proposed LDAR requirements for onshore gas gathering lines…”

Letters and Comments Aug 7, 2023

Ms. Spence,

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) respectfully requests an extension to the deadline for the comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled Risk Management and Financial Assurance for OCS Lease and Grant Obligations (RIN 1010-AE14) (the “Proposed Rule”) to 120 days. IPAA is a national upstream trade association representing thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States that operate both onshore and offshore. Independent producers develop 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells. These companies account for 54 percent of America’s oil production, 85 percent of its natural gas production, and support over 2.1 million American jobs.

IPAA is concerned about the Proposed Rule’s significant changes to the financial assurance regime to secure decommissioning obligations for the offshore oil and gas industry. We believe the comment period to reply to the Proposed Rule is too short. The window given is not enough time to analyze, digest, and provide substantive comments on a Proposed Rule of this magnitude that will impose substantial additional bonding requirements on independent offshore oil and gas producers. Most of our offshore producers classify as small businesses under the Small Business Administration’s definition and the resources necessary to devote to fully realize the regulatory and financial component of this rule will take time. Simply put, independent offshore oil and gas companies, which produce approximately 35 percent of the oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico and employ thousands of employees across the nation, need more than 60 days to evaluate the consequences of this significant rule.

BOEM should extend the public comment period to 120 days to allow for a more detailed and fulsome public record on the workability and consequences of such a significant rule.

Letters and Comments Aug 7, 2023

Subject: Comment Deadline Extension Request for Docket Id. No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2023-0234, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems, and a Request for a Public Hearing that includes a Presentation on the Proposed Changes

Dear Mr. Regan:

The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance (collectively referred to as the Trades) request the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extend the public comment period by an additional 60-days for Docket Id. No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2023-0234, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule: Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems (Proposed Rule). In addition, we request EPA conduct a public hearing that includes a presentation on the proposed changes.

The Proposed Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 1, with a comment deadline of October 2. This Proposed Rule includes 160 pages of text along with 136 supporting documents that encompass hundreds if not thousands of pages of supporting material. The Trades do not think the 60-day comment period is adequate to fully review the Proposed Rule and supporting material and provide meaningful comments on such a short timeline.

EPA currently has three proposed Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rules (GHGRRs) that have not been finalized: EPA’s initial proposed GHGRR (87 Fed. Reg. 36920, June 21, 2022), the Supplemental Proposed Rule (88 Fed. Reg. 32852, May 22, 2022) and this Proposed Rule for Subpart W for the petroleum and natural gas systems. In addition, EPA’s proposed New Source Performance Standards for new and existing oil and gas sources (NSPS b/c), integral to the GHGRRs, are still not finalized, adding an additional level of complexity to the review process of the Proposed Rule. Taken together, these proposed rules are expansive and provide significant uncertainty as to how they collectively build upon and/or function together. The Trade’s members need the additional 60-day review time to carefully review the Proposed Rule in context with the other proposed rules to better understand the cumulative costs impacts and requirements in order to provide fully informed comments. …

Letters and Comments, Offshore Aug 1, 2023

Dear Mr. President:

The undersigned trade associations, representing every aspect of the American offshore oil and natural gas industry, strongly urge the Biden Administration to finalize a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (five-year leasing program) that includes the 11 lease sales proposed in the Proposed Program released on July 1, 2022, and to begin pre-leasing work now so that the Interior Department can start holding sales in 2024 without any additional delays.

U.S. offshore oil and natural gas production is fast approaching yet another period of extended uncertainty that could negatively impact American energy security. Though the administration has committed to issuing a new five-year offshore leasing program by the end of September, it already is a year and a half late because the previous program expired in June 2022. Additionally, the Proposed Program includes an unworkable option to hold zero lease sales.

Time is running out to avoid significant consequences that could result from a prolonged gap in federal offshore leasing and production in the years ahead. The last sale mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Lease Sale 261, is scheduled for September 27, so even if the administration’s finalized program includes new sales, the ability to hold a sale in 2024 grows harder every day unless pre-leasing steps are taken now. …

Letters and Comments Jul 25, 2023

Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) – representing 45 organizations that reflect a broad cross-section of small businesses, farmers, energy producers and job creators – in a letter on Monday urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carefully reconsider key interpretations in the 2023 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule as the agencies revise the rule to align with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Sackett v. EPA.

In their letter, WAC members wrote,“EPA and the Corps have stated that they intend to issue a final rule by September 1, 2023 that amends the Biden WOTUS Rule to ensure consistency with the decision in Sackett. Based on this truncated rulemaking timeline, it appears that the Agencies will forego public comment and simply strike language from the rule related to the significant nexus test as well as the definition of ‘adjacent,’ while reinforcing the Agencies’ interpretation of the ‘relatively permanent’ test set forth in the preamble. That is not a defensible response to Sackett or an appropriate approach to this rulemaking.”

The letter outlines the coalition’s key recommendations for the agencies as they revise the 2023 WOTUS rule, which include:

  • Eliminating standalone interstate waters and wetlands;
  • Adopting a relatively permanent standard consistent with Supreme Court precedent; excluding ditches,
  • Clarifying the rule’s definition of adjacent in accordance with Sackett; and
  • Retaining the rule’s codified exclusions.

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.