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More reaction to EPA proposed methane reduction rules for oil and gas industry

USA Today (8/19, Rice) reports that on Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the “first-ever” proposed standards for “reducing methane and other pollutants from oil and gas operations nationwide.” The rules “require extensive cutting of methane emissions, finding and repairing leaks at oil and gas wells and capturing natural gas emitted from hydraulic fracturing.”

Reuters (8/18) reports that the targets are similar to a proposal unveiled in January, when the Obama administration said it wanted to reduce, within a decade, the oil and gas industry’s methane output by about 45% from 2012 levels.

The Wall Street Journal (8/19, B3, Harder, Ailworth, Subscription Publication) notes that methane has a warming impact that is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.

Business Wire (8/18) carries a news release from the Partnership for A Better Energy Future, of which the NAM is a member, again expressing “disappointment” over the EPA plan to regulate oil and gas companies’ methane emissions. “This proposed rule adds to a growing suite of regulations that threaten manufacturers’ energy advantage by increasing costs and making it more difficult to access the resources needed to fuel our facilities,” NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Greg Bertelsen said. “If manufacturers are going to continue leading the way in creating products and solutions to lower emissions and ensure a more sustainable future, we need a more balanced approach to regulations.”

The Christian Science Monitor (8/18, Unger) quotes EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as saying, “Today, through our cost-effective proposed standards, we are underscoring our commitment to reducing the pollution fueling climate change and protecting public health while supporting responsible energy development, transparency and accountability.”

The New York Times (8/19, A14, Harris, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that in a call with reporters, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator, Janet McCabe, “said the rules were designed to ensure that oil and gas companies reduced waste and sold more gas that would otherwise be lost, while protecting the climate and the health of the public.” McCabe “estimated” that the proposals would cost the industry “up to $420 million to carry out by 2025, but that there would be savings, including reduced waste, of as much as $550 million during that period.”

The Washington Times (8/19, Wolfgang) reports that although environmental groups “praised the move,” critics argued that the industry “already has made significant strides in reducing methane emissions without government mandates. They argue the administration’s latest climate regulations are a solution in search of a problem.”

In an editorial, the Washington Post (8/19) notes that a study released Tuesday found that previous estimates of methane leakage were “far too low.” With that in mind, the Post says federal and state regulators should be willing to enact more strenuous regulations if targets aren’t met under the EPA’s new rules.

Businesses Say An EPA “Tsunami” Is Coming. The Washington Examiner (8/19, Siciliano) counts the NAM among business groups that are preparing for “a regulatory tsunami” from the Environmental Protection Agency that’s expected to continue through this fall and all of 2016. In the Examiner’s view, the restrictions on methane for the oil and gas industries that the EPA proposed Tuesday “are just the beginning” of a coming onslaught of rules.

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