EPA Will Delay Obama-Era Fracking Rules By Two Years

(Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Tuesday a two-year delay to Obama administration rules limiting methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing operations.

EPA said the delay is necessary so officials can review methane emissions regulations enacted by the Obama administration. The agency will take comments on the proposed delay for the next 30 days before it issues a final decision.

“The agency is proposing a two-year stay of the fugitive emissions, pneumatic pump and professional engineer certification requirements in the rule while the agency reconsiders issues associated with these requirements,” reads an EPA press release. “Under the proposal, sources would not need to comply with these requirements while the stay is in effect. Since issuing the final rule, EPA has received several petitions to reconsider certain aspects of the rule.”

EPA’s decision follows a new peer-reviewed study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers, which found the agency agency relied on inflated methane emissions estimates to justify its regulations.

The study’s authors noted EPA’s justification to relied on research that detected “daily peak emissions rather than daily averages that are generally employed in emissions inventories,” the study found.

The methane rule is part of President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is a short-lived, but potent, greenhouse gas. Scientists blame human greenhouse gas emissions for warming the Earth’s climate. Had the rule gone into force, new oil and gas operations would have been subject to strict emissions limits.

“The Obama administration’s costly methane rule put a bullseye on the Texas economy, threatening jobs and future clean energy development,” Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Research released last month suggests the studies EPA used to justify this rule may have significantly overstated emissions, which underscores why EPA is taking a time-out on this controversial regulation,” Everley said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit suspended litigation on the rule in May, in order to give the Trump administration time to review it. EPA asked the court to halt legal proceedings in late April so the agency could comply with an executive order.

West Virginia led a coalition of 14 states in challenging the rule in August, arguing it imposed burdensome regulations on the economy. Environmental groups intervened in the legal case and will almost certainly use the public comment period to oppose the delay.

“The agency will have a very difficult time justifying a departure from the existing standards, which were the result of the most thorough and extended public comment process the EPA has ever undertaken,” Sierra Club lawyers Alejandra Nunez and Joanne Spalding, wrote in a press statement. “The agency cannot simply rescind these regulations without issuing a legally adequate replacement that makes meaningful reductions in climate pollution.”

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